The Frederick County Council and Frederick Board of Aldermen are set to explore a ban on plastic bags at an upcoming meeting.

County Councilman Kai Hagen (D) is opening the discussion of a plastic bag ban, something that has gained steam in cities nationwide and countries around the globe. He prefers a ban on some single-use plastics, including bags, versus a tax — like the 5-cent tax on plastic bags that has been set in Montgomery County and Washington, D.C.

Hagen said this week he isn’t introducing a legislative proposal on Wednesday, but rather starting a discussion of the issue.

He thinks a work group might be created to explore the issue, and determine whether a ban is feasible at the county level.

“It wouldn’t surprise me, based on the research of what I’ve done, for the group to come up with some sort of ban on single-use plastics,” Hagen said.

In March, the European Parliament voted to ban single-use plastics including straws, food containers and other items by 2021. Plastic bag bans are enforced in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Maryland took steps to address some of the issues related to single-use materials by approving a ban this year on food and drink containers made of foam.

Hagen said he has discussed the proposal with Councilman Jerry Donald (D) and council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D), and that aldermen Roger Wilson (D) and Ben MacShane (D) support exploring the idea.

Donald said he supports looking into the ban. When he drives up and down the Golden Mile, he often sees discarded plastic bags along the road, he said.

He used paper bags a lot when he was growing up, he said, which could be an alternative to single-use plastic bags.

“The question remains, how difficult would it be for businesses to move away from plastic bags?” Donald said. “That’s the biggest thing I think we have to ask.”

An opponent of the idea is County Councilman Phil Dacey (R). He said he wouldn’t “absolutely oppose” a ban, but there are drawbacks.

Citizens reuse plastic bags to clean up after their pets, to line smaller trash cans at home.

Dacey used them for “diaper duty” when his two daughters, Kira and Harper, were growing up.

“I think there’s a lot of unintended consequences that arise that make it less clear that it has an environmental benefit to ban single-use plastic bags,” Dacey said. “I’m not in favor of making life difficult for people in Frederick County. ... That’s what, in my view, a ban would do.”

Hagen understands there are possible negatives to a ban. He noted possible medical devices and equipment in hospitals that might use single-use plastics similar to those in bags. But he also believes there are cost-effective alternatives, such as using cornstarch or other materials in bags.

Any proposed legislation wouldn’t be introduced until the fall or winter months, Hagen said. A work group would probably take at least a month to review the issue.

That work group would consist of a variety of stakeholders, not only those who would support a ban.

“My guess is, as we get rolling, it will get a lot more attention, and that’s a good thing,” Hagen said. “We want the public to be as engaged as much as possible.”

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel.

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

(77) comments

joelp77440

"Plastic bag bans are enforced in Boston, Chicago." I've been to both places this year and I got plastic bags. There is a tax like DC and I see a lot more paper bags but I am staring at a CVS bag from my trip thru Chicago last month.

huskycats

What's going to happen to all those neighborhoods with the dog stations containing those plastic bags? Will they have an alternative?

gabrielshorn2013

The poop bags are biodegradable., and are available at many outlets. We keep a roll of them in the house for dog walking. Used ones get disposed of in the "doggie dooley" in the backyard where they decompose along with the dog waste.

glenkrc

Looks like it's crunch time for the FNP. No one seems to have mentioned that some (all?) of us receive the print edition of our local newspaper in a "single use" plastic bag. Going back to folded/rolled papers held with rubber bands won't do, unless their carriers go through the extra effort to place it in a dry place (as I did in my youth). Also, I can't imagine that converting to online-only content would provide sufficient revenue. It will be interesting to see what editorial stance they take.

ma23464

Paper bags are not really any better for the environment

DickD

They are bio degradable.

ma23464

That they are. So from that perspective they are better. But all in all it takes more resource and energy to make a paper bag. Cost more to haul them also. I think a better alternative would be to charge for the bags maybe. Idk. I think Aldi charges for bags. I never bought one though. Just grab a empty box and fill it up. Makes sense actually

ma23464

Lots of people feel good about recycling when many times it’s counter productive. Many times it cost more money and has a larger environmental impact to recycle an item then to just make another one. The best thing environmental is to just not use or consume the item in the first place. It’s kind of disgusting though when the lady in front of me has her own bags covered in cat hair.

besmartten

Yes if you somehow compost them. However in a landfill, I bet, many years later the paper is still there buried. Out of sight, but not biodegraded.

gabrielshorn2013

You would win that bet. Without sufficient water, paper (cellulose fiber) decomposition does not take place. Articles from the 1980s describe perfectly readable newspapers found in landfills after 50 years.

Quisling

Life before plastic bags? No I wont go back!!!!!!

Comment deleted.
DickD

You don't think it is reasonable to save money and not cause pollution? And why would that be a Communist idea? What you say makes no sense.

DickD

Aldi doesn't use paper bags and it works fine.  In Hawaii, the local Walmart sells a cloth mesh bag for $.50.  Paper bags would work fine, as long as you are not going to use them for other purposes and what about the plastic bags you buy to store food in the refrigerator?  And there are products used to seal food, using plastic, what about them?  Dacey is right, this can cause a lot of problems, but on a limited basis, it might have merit.

BunnyLou

Other states are way more forward thinking than the single brain celled democrats in MD. For instance, in WI they recycle single use plastic bags at grocery stores and ultimately turn them into park benches and picnic tables. It takes approximately 39000 bags to make a bench and a few more to make a table. Bottom line it takes less money to promote a way of thinking about an issue than to ban an item completely.

hayduke2

You do know that you can currently recycle bags at grocery stores. That is not the issue being discussed. It is an issue and banning bags would be a good first step

hayduke2

Really- somehow this is a Democrat issue. Sad

kstr92

Here's another fun fact: 95 percent of the plastic in the world's oceans comes from 10 rivers. Eight of those are in Asia (mostly China) and the other two in Africa. Keep your hands off my plastic bags, and go protest in front of the Chinese Embassy instead!

chesapeakecountry

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

kstr92

Hmm, what's more important: the local opioid crisis, our inadequate roads and infrastructure, or plastic bags? Any local politician who for one minute thinks this is important should resign immediately. Disgraceful.

DMSchobel

Addressing those other issues isn’t mutually exclusive. Whataboutism accomplishes nothing.

DMSchobel

A plastic bag ban is well overdue. Would fully support this.

kstr92

So, just because you think this is a good idea, the rest of us have to suffer?

DickD

Kstr, don't you think that is a two way street?

chesapeakecountry

Don't like them don't use them but let everyone make their own choice.

hayduke2

Suffer! Really. Being forced to make a good decision is the only way it will work

hayduke2

Seat belts were a great idea. Did this cause you to suffer also ?

gary4books

Express yourself. Never suffer in silence. What ever should we do?

sevenstones1000

It will be a little hardship me to get used to carrying my own reusable bags, but even I will admit - it’s time. I’m happy to do it for my kids and grandkids, so they can have a less-trashy world. Can I ask how dangerous items like chicken and other meat will be bagged? I think putting produce in a bag that once held chicken could cause problems.

gary4books

Most groceries allow you to double bag meat items before you buy them. If you want I expect another bag would be OK and that can increase safety. If this is not available, you need washable bags.

MD1756

Most grocery stores have those small plastic bags for produce and meats. In MoCo, those aren't taxed and I would hope they wouldn't be taxed or banned in Frederick county.

DickD

They will use Styrofoam, which is worse. They use it now. If we are not careful, we could make a bad situation worse.

gary4books

The last time I checked (a few months ago) there were several places in Maryland to take Styrofoam to recycle it.

Dwasserba

"' I think there’s a lot of unintended consequences that arise that make it less clear that it has an environmental benefit to ban single-use plastic bags,' Dacey said." Welp, since it's Sunday, I bundle up canned goods to donate at church that goes where they're needed in Frederick. From looking in the bin I'd say, most people re use plastic bags as I do.

micky

How about plastic water bottles also !!

gary4books

Recycle.

MD1756

It would be cheaper and probably better for you if you drank distilled water. You could then fill reusable bottles.

gary4books

It might be simple to just ban these bags, but it would also be reasonable to try to recycle them as part of our recycle system. We have bags to take to the store, but right now they just slow down the sales process. The plastic bags are set up to be used immediately after the register .

gabrielshorn2013

Agreed Gary. We keep a bag o' bags in the kitchen to collect all the store bags. When it gets full, it is brought back to the store for recycling. We fill a 96 gallon recycling container, but only put out less than a bag of trash, yet trash collection is weekly, and recycling is bi-weekly. Backwards.

gary4books

That seems normal to me. Our trash is usually once every two weeks and not so much. I like that.

babelmd

We pay for the door pickup trash service in our apartment community and they pick up 5 days out of the week but only pick up recycling once a week. Drives me bonkers because we have so much recycling and we have to pay for trash pickup we use maybe half the time.

kstr92

Plastic bags are not recycled. Do your homework. In fact, most "recyclables," nation wide, end up in landfills, as most countries no longer accept them. There's no longer any money to be made by them.

public-redux

BunnyLou Jun 16, 2019 12:28pm Other states are way more forward thinking than the single brain celled democrats in MD. For instance, in WI they recycle single use plastic bags at grocery stores and ultimately turn them into park benches and picnic tables. It takes approximately 39000 bags to make a bench and a few more to make a table.

gary4books

Recycling is the way to go - even when it is not making money. It is worth our money to research better ways to recycle and even to support the process.

Thewheelone

You are correct, kstr92. Some communities no longer pick up glass bottles anymore, and I bet plastic bottles are next. The Chinese used to buy a lot of our recycled items but no more.

dcmetro

IMO I really don't see why anyone would want to be against something that is going to be helpful to our environment. I'm as guilty as the next person in not faithfully using reusable bags although I do keep a supply of them in my car and at home. The reason is simply convenience. I'm sure if a ban were to be in place I would be able to adjust comfortably knowing that I was helping the environment in the process. I recently was in South Carolina and was surprised (knowing a little about the politics of the state) that a community there had instituted a ban on single use plastics. I became aware when I went to Target and used the self checkout for a few items and stopped at a convenience store for a soda and picked up a paper straw. They did have large paper bags available at Target, but no single use plastic. Since I only had a few items and didn't even use a basket or cart to pick them up while shopping it definitely was not a problem to simply carry them out without a bag. I honestly don't feel paper would be an answer like in the South Carolina community. I would certainly support a ban on single use plastics where feasible. If the entire European Union has placed a ban on single use plastics including bags, cutlery, and straws then Frederick County can certainly move forward with some type of proposal that would help counter plastic pollution.

MD1756

dcmetro, you wrote "IMO I really don't see why anyone would want to be against something that is going to be helpful to our environment..." Well the single best thing people could do to help the planet and other species is not have so many children. Human population growth is probably the most significant problem and is not being addressed. In fact the governments support population growth through their tax policies yet now are realizing the problems of climate change but will not change the policies because the politicians would lose the votes of those who have children and want their tax breaks to help support their choice (not need) to have children. Certainly anyone having more than two children is are a big part of the problem.

gary4books

We will need more children. Your facts are dated.

MD1756

And exactly how will more children solve climate change, species extinction and other environmental problems we as a species are causing? I don't think I'm the one whose facts are dated. Whit a population over roughly 7.8 billion people on this planet, how many more do you think we should have? Will you be happy when DC to Balt. looks like NYC and northern NJ?

gary4books

A world with out enough children will be much like Japan. We could have too many or not enough. That is a problem to solve.

MD1756

The planet already can't handle the number of people on it with our current behavior and I don't see too many people willing or able to take the steps necessary to protect the planet. The easiest solution is encourage a drop in human population. Japan somehow seems to survive even with low birth rates. As more things are automated, we need fewer people and economies can adjust to a shrinking population just as they adjust to other situations (i.e, war which rapidly depopulates the world).

chesapeakecountry

How about "don't litter"? That's the real problem not the bag itself.

hayduke2

simplistic view - guess all we should do is put up more signs.

Thewheelone

dcmetro, it is because helping the environment has become a political battle. Our dear Bunny exemplifies that with his/her silly comments about "dems" and recycling. Listen to that blowhard Tim May for a minute on WFMD when any legislation is brought up in Frederick or anywhere that is geared toward recycling or banning items that can hurt our environment. Conservatives to put it down because it is they associate it with more liberal thinking.

hayduke2

wheel - [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

bryan

Kai and I don't agree on much but I'm on board with any effort to reduce use of plastic that degrades the environment. Just the awareness around plastic straws has caused me to stop the automatic pick up of a straw at a restaurant. The new paper straws seem to be fine. However, I disagree with legislation as it will be difficult or impossible for some businesses or places like hospitals to comply. I would favor some incentive for a limited time of biodegradable plastic alternatives along with an awareness campaign for people to choose alternatives, over a period of time.

DickD

Sounds reasonable to me, Bryan.

riccicc

another crazy thought

sue1955

Years ago, all there was was paper grocery bags. Then, somehow that was considered wasteful by the "save a tree" group. The paper bags were also heavy in comparison to plastic bags. Not to mention, they tended to harbor pests (especially roaches) coming from food warehouses. It is was not uncommon to bring one home (decades ago). Paper bags that are stored can attract pests in the home, too. Naturally, people don't think of these things and probably have no awareness of this because they weren't living decades ago. This whole thing about plastic is ridiculous. People don't have anything better than to worry about. Just like the nut (from another region) that wrote a letter to the editor several weeks ago, she was complaining about what she considered as over-packaging of various products. She didn't think about safety of products where the packaging eliminates contamination and protection has to be done by law. I can't remembe if she was complaining about the packing materials when ordering online. If not, there are people who complain about that, too. They don't think about how packing materials (or lack thereof) protect your products that you purchase. Whenever something is packed with a minimum or no padding and a sturdy box, it is damaged in the shipping process. I have even switched to ordering from companies who still pack properly, even if it costs extra. As for noticing plastic bags along a highway; years ago, it was paper that constituted a lot of the litter. Local politicians: look for something more important and meaningful to take on instead of this nonsense. I suggest they (and the people essentially losing sleep over this subject) listen to the late, great comedian (initials of GC) who expounded on this topic.

Thewheelone

Sue, a simple mindset change will fix this problem and yes, these bags do pose a problem. If you just start using the reusable bags they sell at the grocery store and keep 6 or 8 of them in a spot near where you exit the house or get in your car, you will find they are much more practical, hold more items and are much sturdier than the plastic ones they give you. For me, the difficulty was simply remembering to take a couple with me when I go. I leave at least one in the car when I forget to bring one. It certainly cannot hurt to give it a try.

DickD

I always take my reusable bags out and put them back into the car trunk or I would forget. Problem with that is getting them washed in between uses.

hayduke2

Wheel[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

sue1955

Thewheelone, I don't drive any longer. Family does my grocery shopping for me. I did buy special totes (that keep food frozen) and one is kept in their car. Over time, it gets grimy, dusty and smells "off." So, it is replaced. Things kept in cars are not necessarily sanitary. Insulated totes can be heavy once food items are placed in them, too. (Of course, I realize that thinner ones are sold).

DickD

Sue, there is a redeemable feature of paper bags, they are bio degradable.

hayduke2

Cranky thinking

KellyAlzan

So stupid. get A life

gary4books

[wink]

FCPS-Principal

There should be a nationwide ban on these stupid and persistent bags. All of them end up in a whale's stomach anyway. I have used the same pair of Food Lion rigid bags ($5) for about 4 years now and I estimate they've saved me from about 1500 bags. Plus they are far easier to carry. And they travel much better. See how that lady is struggling to get the plastic bags to arrange themselves in an orderly manner so she can pack everything in the car? It isn't helped by grocery store baggers either. When packing paper bags, which are expensive, they arrange things more or less in a logical order based on shape and weight. But when they pack plastic bags, which are cheap, all that goes out the window and they just throw random stuff in them, filling the bag to about 20% capacity so you wind up with 20 bags when 4 would suffice. For some reason they won't put food and non-food items in the same plastic bag. I have gotten plastic bags with only a single item in them. Dumb.

Funshine

Hope you are washing those frequently! "An assessment of the bacteria in grocery bags, led by University of Arizona and Loma Linda University researchers, found that almost all of the reusable bags randomly selected from customers entering a grocery store contained large amounts of bacteria. Nearly half contained coliform bacteria, and 12% contained E. Coli."

Dwasserba

This is true. I too use re usable bags when shopping. They should say WASH ME on them. But any plastic ones I get are recycled at home or taken to church as I said, or used for random tasks.

gabrielshorn2013

E. coli is the least of the worries. Salmonella or Shigella from poultry juices, or enterotoxins from the growth of Staphylococcus are far more harmful.

gary4books

[thumbup]

DickD

It is quite possible if you use cloth bags that they could have E Coli, from meat products carried in them, if not washed.

hayduke2

So, throw them in the laudry weekly and problem solved.

gabrielshorn2013

This was the diaper argument from the early '80s hay. When disposables came out, people like Tom Cruise were saying that they should use reusable diapers instead (remember him whirling the reusable diaper overhead like David's slingshot? I was just hoping that it wasn't loaded!). Then someone did the math and found that washing and sanitizing reusable diapers caused far more pollution by burning fossil fuels to heat the water, and phosphates in surface waters due to detergents. Sometimes the obvious answer isn't the best one.

hayduke2

Come on Gabriel - laundry is done anyway and adding 6-8 bags is not going to add to the pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels. There are trade-offs to everything, on that I agree but this is a weak argument.

gabrielshorn2013

Hay, I was referring to the diaper incident. I was not comparing reusable diapers to reusable bags. The diaper issue illustrated that sometimes the seemingly better option isn't better at all. As for the reusable bags, they should be sanitized regularly, especially if they held packages of raw meat. Cross-contamination of other foods, such as raw vegetables or salad greens consumed raw. Not a weak argument at all.

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