As of October 1, 2021, big changes are coming to Baltimore with the passage of the Comprehensive Bag Reduction Act. This act will ban all single-use plastic bags at delivery, point of sale and pickup for a broad range of businesses. With this new law, all specified Baltimore businesses must charge at least $0.05 for all alternative bags that are given out at checkout and turn over 1 cent of that amount to Baltimore City. What does your business need to know to prepare?
Who Is Subject to the Comprehensive Bag Reduction Act?
Many of the businesses in Baltimore will be impacted through this law, and all plastic bags under 4 mils thick that are given or received at the point of purchase are included. Some of the businesses that are included are:
- Corner stores
- Convenience stores
- Gas stations
- Other sales outlets
If you are not sure whether your business will be impacted, think about whether you sell items that are placed into plastic bags at the point of purchase. Even if you are exempt, it’s still a good idea to use the Comprehensive Bag Reduction Act as inspiration to make changes to be greener.
What Bags Are Allowed?
While plastic bags under 4 mils thick will be outlawed, there are other types of bags you can offer at the point of purchase for your customers to buy. Some bags allowed include:
- Plastic bags that are 4 mils or thicker
- Paper bags
- Compostable bags that meet the ASTM D6400 standard specifications and can undergo decomposition
All of those bags must be offered with a price of at least $0.05 for all consumers, and $0.01 of the price will need to be turned over to the Baltimore City government.
Are There Any Exceptions?
There are limited exceptions when it comes to items that need to be placed in other packaging to stay sanitary. Plastic bags that are solely used to contain the below items are allowed despite the Comprehensive Bag Reduction Act:
- Fresh fish and fresh fish products
- Fresh poultry and fresh poultry products
- Fresh meat and fresh meat products
- Unpackaged confectionery items
- Unpackaged fruit, nuts or vegetables
- Unpackaged fresh cheese
- Unpackaged baked goods and desserts
- Food and goods at a farmer’s market
- Prescription drugs from a pharmacy
- Dry-cleaned goods
If you are not sure whether what you are selling qualifies, you can find out more information from Baltimore City for increased clarity. Users of WIC, SNAP and FSP are not exempt from the ban or exempt from paying the $0.05 fee. This gives your business a great opportunity to meet the needs of your customers and help to connect them with high-quality reusable bags they can bring back the next time they visit you.
How Can I Adapt to the Comprehensive Bag Reduction Act?
One of the best ways to adapt to the Comprehensive Bag Reduction Act is by offering your own customized bags. Curry Printing can help you create affordable bags you can offer to your clients that meet the strict requirements of the Comprehensive Bag Reduction Act.
Beyond offering reusable bags, you also need to ensure that you are properly collecting the surcharge. You must charge at least 5 cents for the bags and save one cent of the amount to pay to Baltimore City. You may keep the remaining amount, no matter how much you are charging for the alternative bags that you offer. You need to start collecting the surcharge on October 1, 2021, and then submit monthly payments to the City. This means that the first payment will need to be made on November 25, 2021, for the period of October 1-October 31. To pay your surcharge, you can register for a Tax ID and pay electronically. If you do not comply, you could be faced with both civil and criminal penalties. The fines for non-compliance will start at $250 and increase to $500 or $1,000 if you break the law multiple times. The City hopes that, by making these changes, the Comprehensive Bag Reduction Act can help to reduce plastic pollution in the Baltimore harbor and beyond.
How Can I Find Quality Reusable Bags?
Curry Printing is here to help businesses like yours grow, and we are proud to offer a full range of reusable bags that can help your business adapt to the Comprehensive Bag Reduction Act. We work with businesses in every industry to find compelling solutions to their printing and mailing needs, and we look forward to earning your business. To learn more, call us today at 410-685-2679.