Maryland Plastic Bag Recycling Act Forges Producer Responsibility
Posted by Ted Duboise
Different Approach To Plastic Bag Regulation | Plastic Bag Ban Report
March 18, 2012 – The Maryland Plastic Bag Recycling Act is being considered in the current session of the Maryland General Assembly. If passed, the law would create what is known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a common term in European Countries.
Known as Senate Bill 164, the Maryland Plastic Bag Recycling Act would place the responsibility of end-of-life recovery of plastic bags squarely on the shoulders of the manufacturer. At the Third Reading on March 9th, the bill passed in the Senate with a vote of 44-0. The bill is now in the House with a hearing scheduled for March 28th.
Maryland Senate Bill 164
The bill mandates that no plastic bag manufacturer will be allowed to sell, distribute, or offer for sale, plastic carryout bags unless the manufacturer is registered with the State of Maryland.
The Bill also provides that:
- The name of the manufacturer must be printed on the bag
- Plastic bag manufacturers must register with the State every two years
- Manufacturers must submit a plan to implement the collection and recycling of plastic carryout bags
- Manufacturer must develop educational materials to encourage reuse, recycling, and reduction in the use of plastic carryout bags
- Manufacturer must bear all costs associated with the development and implementation of the plan
Beginning January 1st, 2015, each plastic carryout bag manufacturer must file a report with the state which details the results of the company’s recycling program from the preceding year. The report must include:
- Total weight in pounds of plastic carryout bags collected and recycled
- Total weight in pounds of plastic carryout bags sold for use or distribution in the State
- The percentage of pre-consumer recycled content and the percentage of post-consumer recycled content in the plastic carryout bags sold for use or distribution in the State
The Maryland Plastic Bag Recycling Act, if passed, will be a tough law. This is definitely a different approach to plastic bag regulations. Although the law wouldn’t curtail plastic bag use, it would hold the manufacturers responsible for the collection and recycling of their own product.
It would undoubtedly cause the price of the bags to increase. Retailers would have to pay more for the bags and this might have some effect in causing retailers to stop providing plastic carryout bags at the point of sale to the customer.
Several plastic carryout bag manufacturers were contacted for this report but none would comment.
Cover Photo: Flag of Maryland. Courtesy: Wikipedia