Bag it Right (Better Bag Bill)
Better Bag Bill
Effective January 1, 2024, Prince George’s County prohibits a retail establishment from providing a plastic carryout bag to shoppers and, with certain exceptions*, can charge 10 cents for each paper carryout or reusable bag provided to a customer. To assist residents in making the transition, the County will provide a limited amount of free reusable bags and will announce distribution dates and locations once finalized.
WHY THE BAN?
- To protect the environment and marine life and reduce litter.
- Plastic carryout bags are not recyclable at the County’s recycling facility and impose costs to county government and taxpayers in the form of removal of litter and repair and wear-and-tear on recycling machinery due to the improper disposal of plastic bags in recycling bins.
- Single-use plastic bags are made from fossil fuels, and their production results in harmful greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of their life cycle, from extraction to production to disposal, contributing to climate change.
WHO IS AFFECTED?
All retail stores, restaurants, grocery stores, or any other establishment that provides single-use plastic bags to its customers due to the sale of a product or service, whether for-proﬁt or not-for-proﬁt.
Plastic bags used to:
- Package bulk items, including fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, or small hardware items.
- Wrap frozen foods, meat, or ﬁsh, whether prepackaged or not.
- Wrap ﬂowers, potted plants, or other damp items.
- Contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods.
- Protect or contain garments or dry–cleaned clothes; protect suits, dresses, and formal wear.
- Take live ﬁsh, insects, mollusks, or crustaceans away from the retail store.
The mandatory minimum charge for paper carryout bags is waived for:
- Paper bags containing prescription drugs.
- Paper bags containing prepared food provided at the drive-through window of a restaurant.
- Paper bags provided by a full-service restaurant after a meal for leftovers.
WHAT IS A REUSABLE BAG?
Reusable Carryout Bag means a bag:
- With stitched handles speciﬁcally designed and manufactured for multiple reuse.
- Made of cloth or other washable fabric.
- Made of a durable material suitable for multiple re-use that is not made of plastic ﬁlm.
Plan Now. Start Bringing Your Reusable Bag When You Shop!
- The Department of the Environment shall oversee the enforcement of this ordinance.
- A retail establishment that violates the provisions of this Division is subject to a civil penalty not exceeding $500.
- The provision of one or more plastic carryout bags at a single point of sale is a single violation.
- Failure to charge the amount of money required to provide one or more paper or reusable carryout bags at a single point of sale is a single violation.
A penalty may not be imposed under this section unless a retail establishment:
- Is first issued a written notice of violation.
- Does not correct the violation within seven days after receipt of the written notice.
- During the first 90 days of implementation, the County will provide a three-month grace period to businesses before imposing any citations with monetary penalties.