Despite tax, Maryland shoppers still using plastic bags

By Gayle S. Putrich
Staff Reporter

Published: February 11, 2013 12:59 pm ET
Updated: February 11, 2013 1:02 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Packaging, Government & Legislation, Grocery bags

WASHINGTON -- Maryland's largest county took in more revenue than expected in the first year of its shopping bag tax. While the numbers seem to indicate Montgomery County shoppers are not ready to give up their bags, county officials are holding off on any interpretation of the data for at least a few more months.

The county initially estimated it would take in between $1.2 million and $1.3 million in the first year of the 5-cent per bag tax on both paper and plastic bags. By the end of December 2012, the revenue totaled $2.3 million, essentially accounting for 57.7 million bags used last year, said Meo Curtis, manager for the stormwater permit coordination section, which oversees Montgomery County's bag tax and related activities.

Curtis said the original estimate was that Montgomery County consumers used as many as 300 million bags per year, though some felt that the "one bag per person per year" estimate was too high. Those figures would mean an 80 percent drop in paper and plastic bag use in the county last year.

But one of the big problems with measuring the efficacy of bag taxes and bans is the fact that no one is really sure how many bags were being used before the laws went into effect, Curtis said.

Washington has taken the lead in the region, approving a 5-cent fee in 2010. The city claimed a huge drop in bag use in the first year, going from 270 million to about 55 million bags – a drop of about 80 percent. The tax brought in about $1.8 million in fiscal 2011, about half of what officials projected which means less revenue for the District but also indicates a continuing drop in the use of plastic bags.

Neighboring Prince George's County in Maryland is struggling to impose a bag fee of its own. Though it has had support at the county level, any revenue-generating measures must be approved by the General Assembly and the state-level enabling legislation failed last year after some lawmakers raised concerns that it would hurt poorer residents who might be less inclined to buy reusable bags.

Efforts to ban plastics bags or impose a 20-cent per bag tax in nearby Virginia have also failed.

San Francisco pioneered banning plastic bags in the United States with its 2007 law, which includes an exception for biodegradable bags. Last year, Seattle barred the use of single use plastic bags and Los Angeles banned plastic bags from its grocery store check out lanes and instituted a fee for paper bags.


Comments

Despite tax, Maryland shoppers still using plastic bags

By Gayle S. Putrich
Staff Reporter

Published: February 11, 2013 12:59 pm ET
Updated: February 11, 2013 1:02 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

NY packaging company aims for zero waste

September 16, 2014 1:36 pm ET

Plastic folding carton maker Diamond Packaging is no longer sending any manufacturing waste to landfills.    More

Image

Flexibility for complexity key for Brampton

September 16, 2014 11:26 am ET

Blown film machinery maker Brampton Engineering Inc. is well positioned to meet growing demand for complex film structures, highly customized...    More

Image

Here's a peek behind our 2014 film & sheet ranking

September 15, 2014 1:22 pm ET

Today Plastics News publishes its annual ranking of North American Film and Sheet Manufacturers. Let's look at some interesting numbers behind the...    More

Image

DS Smith adds to footprint with Croatian injection molding acquisition

September 10, 2014 2:05 pm ET

DS Smith plc, the London-headquartered packaging giant, has announced the acquisition of Kaplast dd, a Croatian injection molding company.    More

Image

Par-Pak Europe buys Holfeld Plastics

September 10, 2014 1:58 pm ET

Holfeld Plastics Ltd., the Ireland-based packaging manufacturer, has been bought by Par-Pak Europe (PPE) for an undisclosed sum.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook – North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events