Beginning January 1st of this year, residents and shoppers of Montgomery County, Maryland (a suburb of Washington, DC and where I grew up), are probably going to start using more reusable grocery bags and fewer plastic ones.
Unlike other cities that have banned plastic bags all together, Montgomery County still offers them, but at a price. Each retail establishment that provides their customers a disposable bag (there are exceptions) must charge 5 cents per bag.
Proponents of the tax say that plastic bags are a leading source of litter in waterways. This causes problems when those waterways eventually feed into a river that supplies drinking water. Plastic bags also clog devices that are designed to hold water from rainfall, which prevents them from working correctly.
Studies have shown that by charging a tax on bags, people use less, therefore reducing the amount of bags that end up the waterways. Revenue from the bag charge will go to the Montgomery County Water Quality Protection Charge fund.
Consumers seem to be split almost 50/50 on their opinions of the bag tax and studies in nearby Washington DC, where a bag tax has been in effect 2010, have shown favorable environmental results. While consumers do end up using fewer bags thusly reducing the amount of plastic waste the in waterways, some say the tax hits the poorest residents the hardest and causes unnecessary strife.
Though the bag tax is somewhat controversial, it looks like it’s gaining popularity. As more and more cities implement the tax or ban, reusable grocery totes are sure to become more and more useful to consumers.
Are you in favor or against a disposable bag tax? Leave your thoughts in the comments!