Montgomery County to decide whether to bag the bag tax for some

WASHINGTON – Montgomery County residents have been paying an extra 5 cents for every bag they take home from stores since 2012.

Now, lawmakers will take a look at tweaking the law and perhaps creating exceptions.

A Montgomery County Council committee is looking at several tweaks, including restricting the tax to grocery stores or banning plastic bags altogether. Under that plan, customers still would have to cough up a nickel for paper bags.

The whole idea behind the bag tax is to keep plastic bags from gumming up area waterways. The county spends almost $3 million a year unclogging drainage systems.

Anacostia Riverkeeper Mike Bolinder says since the District enacted the first bag tax in the area, far fewer bags have ended up in area’s streams.

WTOP asked Bolinder whether the Montgomery County bag tax has made a difference in area waterways.

“We can’t tell when we find a bag in the river whether it’s from Montgomery, Prince George’s or from the District,” he says.

He says there is still a “tremendous amount of trash.”

Changes to the bag tax in Montgomery County could eventually be considered by state lawmakers in Annapolis. A plan proposed during this year’s legislative session calls for a statewide bag tax in Maryland.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow Kate and WTOP on Twitter.

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