Maryland Retailers Association not a fan of the Howard County Plastic Bag Fee bill

I saw the following tweet and it caught my interest:

I reached out to the Maryland Retailers Association (MRA) to try and see if they had a press release or statement they could provide me on the topic…here is what they sent me last night:

Hi Scott.

Nice speaking with you earlier.  A couple of points to make on this and other single use plastic issues:

  1. We do not believe banning products is a solution to littering and or the solution to environmental change as they typically push consumers to use products that leave similar environmental footprints and will also just be thrown on the ground.   We must come up with comprehensive education and recycling solutions.
  2. We do not support legislation that is a fee on plastic only.  Because the cost differential between paper and plastic is so large, retailers must be made whole for the difference.  The grocery industry operates on around 1% profit margins and if consumers do not want to pay a fee, they will just ask for a paper bag.  This means six digit increases that threaten the viability of these stores.
  3. We support common sense provisions in fee or ban legislation like the California bill exempting out certain sectors of retail such as clothing and home good type of items as consumers do not want to put those items in reusable bags meat and onions have been in.

Let me know what else you may need.

Cailey Locklair
Maryland Retailers Association,
Maryland Association of Chain Drug stores,
Tri State Jewelers Association,
& The Maryland Food Industry Council


We can fight the merits of points 1 and 2 above…what I want to focus on is point 3 above: “exempting out certain sectors of retail such as clothing and home good type of items as consumers do not want to put those items in reusable bags meat and onions have been in”.

This type of exemption is something that has not been discussed locally…and I am at a total loss as to why not. I can somewhat understand the approach pitched today with grocery stores when it comes to charging a fee / tax (while still opposing it myself) I do not understand why providing exemptions on stores that provide “other than food” products has not been discussed (at least I have not seen it discussed publicly).

I do not believe people are generally going to take the same reusable bags that they carry food around in from the grocery stores to the mall and other stores that also provide plastic bags…thus they will be stuck paying a fee / tax on the bags they get from those locations. Think about it…do you really believe the vast majority of shoppers at Christmas time are going to be walking around the mall with hands full of reusable bags in order to carry the products they purchase home? I do not…and thus they will be stuck paying the fee / tax from that and other similar type of locations.

I remain 100% opposed to Council Bill 64-2019 and in favor of a ban on plastic bags if we are serious about reducing the number of plastic bags leaving stores and entering our local environment. The data suggest that bills like this may slow down the number of bags leaving stores…it does not “reduce” them year in and year out….and is that not the whole point of this? Or maybe it really is about something else altogether.

More to come on this topic in the near future…stay tuned.

Scott E

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  1. As I’ve commented here before, this is legislation being pushed through ALEC (ACEE) and it benefits the fossil fuel industry. It is designed to trick people into thinking they are doing something good, when in fact, the people at the top of the money ladder are benefitting while the middle layers are bearing the brunt of the legislation.


  2. I use the same reusable bags for EVERYTHING and have never had a problem. I think all of these issues needed to be brought up before legislation was passed. If they were, then legislators obviously felt their was a greater need to pass this legislation. If they weren’t brought up, then it’s too late.


  3. Marijane, legislation was just prefiled. We will be able to comment on it soon. That’s why this is being discussed. There is still time to amend or kill the bill.


    • I support banning plastic bags for the environment. But taxing is not helpful. I know the county is eager to find more income streams, but a plastic bag tax is not going to be much of a revenue generating tool. For MoCo, at 5 cents a bag, it is only generating $3m a year. That’s less than 0.25% of the $1.2 billion HoCo county operating budget. Yet, people will be reminded of this tax every time they go grocery shopping.


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