Mayor Scott Signs Executive Order to Postpone Plastic Bag Ban Implementation Due to COVID-19

BALTIMORE, MD (Wednesday, January 6, 2021) — This afternoon, Mayor Brandon M. Scott signed an Executive Order postponing implementation of Ordinance 20-337: Comprehensive Bag Reduction in response to the continuous impact of COVID-19 on residents and businesses, effective immediately.

Read the Mayor’s executive order here.

“I am fully committed to making Baltimore a more sustainable and environmentally aware city, and enacting the plastic bag ban is one important step toward that goal,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “However, as we continue to face the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, it’s clear that we need more time to get the implementation of this ban right for our businesses and residents. Over the next 6 months, my administration  will work hand-in-hand with our agencies to strengthen outreach to our retailers so they fully understand the impacts of this law and step up our efforts to provide reusable bags to Baltimoreans, all while we navigate this unprecedented pandemic. These changes will not happen overnight, and will not come easy as we continue to battle COVID-19. But I know that with the support of our businesses and residents, taking these small steps now will have a tremendous impact in the future.”

The Comprehensive Bag Reduction ordinance, commonly known as Baltimore’s plastic bag ban, was originally slated for implementation on January 13, 2021, one week from today. The Executive Order suspends the date of implementation for 6 months, making the new effective date July 9, 2021, with possibility of extension, at the discretion of the Mayor, for 30 days following the termination of Governor Hogan’s state of emergency.

“Reducing plastic pollution is still a priority for our City and our Bay – however, in this time of emergency, it is vital we take whatever actions necessary to respond to the public health crisis,” said Comptroller Bill Henry, who sponsored this legislation. “I wholly support Mayor Scott’s executive order to delay implementation of the plastic bag ban until our city can begin recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“While reducing the number of plastic bags that end up in our oceans and landfills is absolutely necessary, I support Mayor Scott in having the wisdom to temporarily delay the implementation of Baltimore’s ban until our city can begin to overcome the devastating impacts of this pandemic,” Council President Nick J. Mosby said“Stopping shoppers from using plastic bags is the right thing to do, but not in the midst of this crisis where it would bring the greatest burden to our neighbors who are already fighting to meet even basic needs. When the ban does become effective, I will work side-by-side with the mayor to make sure our residents understand this change and what it means for them.”

Ordinance 20-337: Comprehensive Bag Reduction was introduced in 2019 by then-Councilman Bill Henry and cosponsored by then-Council President Scott. It was signed into law in January 2020, prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a year-long enactment period. The ordinance prohibits retailers from providing plastic bags at checkout that are less than 4 millimeters thick unless the bag is to contain certain products.  The ordinance also requires retailers to collect a 5-cent surcharge for any other bags provided at the point of sale, pickup, or delivery to carry purchased items, and imposes reporting and remittance requirements on retailers.

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I think this was the right move…I only wish other jurisdictions in Maryland would have made similar decisions relating to plastic bags during this global pandemic.

Scott E

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