Single-use plastic bags make up a portion of local litter as many bags end up in our trees, streets, parks, and waterways, blocking storm drains and polluting our environment. Unfortunately, according to the EPA, only about 3% of single-use plastic bags are recycled nationwide. Further, single-use plastic bags are not accepted in the City’s recycling program due to Prince George’s County restrictions from their Single-Stream Recycling Program and Materials Recycling Facility which receives all the City’s recyclable materials. By banning the use of single-use plastic bags, the Better Bag Ordinance helps the City meet its sustainability goals laid out in the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan for a more sustainable College Park.
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The objective is to reduce plastic pollution and single-use waste, and encourage the use of reusable bags or less/no bags. By restricting single-use plastic carryout bags and requiring retailers to charge at least 10 cents for alternate bags (paper or resuable), we can help reduce the waste and litter caused by single-use plastic bags. The charge for paper bags reduces the demand for them and is an incentive for patrons to bring their own reusable bags.
September 1, 2023.
Without a charge on paper bags, plastic carryout bag bans result in massive uptake of paper bags and only modest increases in reusable bag use. For example, following the single-use plastic bag ban in the City of Laurel, the share of grocery shoppers using paper bags rose from less than 1% to 68%, while the share using reusable bags rose from 5% to only 14%, and no bag from 7% to 14%.
The manufacture of paper bags has serious upstream environmental impacts and they are far more expensive than single-use plastic bags. Providing them free of charge at checkout in such large numbers may increase retailer overhead, which may result in higher prices.
On the other hand, if the retailers charge shoppers the cost of a paper bag (just as they do for other merchandise), overhead may not be affected. Some store chains, like Aldi, Lidl, Wegmans, and MOM’s, have already abandoned plastic carryout bags and charge from 5¢ to 25¢ for paper bags to offset their costs and discourage their use.
To help alleviate the costs of reusable bags on the College Park community, the City will begin distributing a limited supply of reusable bags to City residents later this year. Dates and locations for bag distribution will be announced via City communication channels including City social media and email. The community is encouraged to sign up for City emails at www.collegeparkmd.gov/cpconnect and to follow the City’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn pages.
No. The City doesn't collect any fees from this Ordinance.
This new Ordinance encourages shoppers and patrons to use reusable bags for their groceries and other purchases. As part of the Ordinance, alternate bags like paper bags or reusable bags can be provided, but retailers must charge a minimum of $.10 per bag and retain the entirety of the fee to cover costs. Restaurant carry-out bags are included in the Ordinance. There are exemptions to this law, like bulk food, meat, ice, or produce packaging; for a full list of exemptions, please see the next FAQ.
Exemptions from the City's Better Bag Ordinance include bags that:
Yes. Passed during the February 14, 2023 Mayor and Council meeting, the Better Bag Ordinance will restrict the use of non-reusable plastic bags given or received at the point of purchase by City retailers and restaurants effective September 1, 2023
Following the rollout, enforcement will be complaint-driven, through on-line reporting or a hot line, and enforced by the City’s Division of Code Enforcement. Community members can report non-compliance via the City’s reporting system available at www.collegeparkmd.gov/tellus.
Contact our Economic Development Manager, Michael Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A bag with stitched handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and is made of: (1) cloth or other washable fabric; or (2) a durable material suitable for multiple re-use that is not made of plastic film.