Plastic bag tax wrong for Baltimore

March 24, 2010

Everyone wants "to see fewer bags tossed onto streets and alleys," as your editorial puts it ("Paper, plastic or meaningless legislation?" March 18). Fortunately the Baltimore City Council did not agree that a confusing new tax is the only way to achieve this.

Most states and cities that have wrestled with bag policy have opted for strong recycling programs and citizen education -- not new taxes.

Baltimore shoppers today have ample access to recycling bins for plastic retail bags, dry cleaning bags, product wraps -- even this newspaper's delivery bags! -- at major grocery stores and retailers. This valuable material is in demand to make things like durable backyard decking, home-building products, city park benches and new plastic bags. In fact, plastic recyclers recently announced record amounts of recycled bags and wraps in 2008, even as recycling of other materials declined nationwide as a result of the recession.

Taxing plastic bags could cripple Baltimore's bag recycling program -- ironically, this program provides this paper's subscribers the opportunity to recycle the 365 Baltimore Sun delivery bags they receive each year.

Let's focus on expanding recycling and anti-litter education rather than raising taxes.

Shari Jackson, Arlington, Va.

The writer is a spokesoman for Progressive Bag Affiliates, an industry group.

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