The City Council has utterly failed Baltimore residents and our environment with their amended plastic bag ban (“What’s the point of a plastic bag ban if plastic bags are allowed, Baltimore?” Oct. 8). The plastics and fossil fuel industries and their lobbyists are surely cheering our council this week, as Councilmen Eric Costello, John Bullock, Leon Pinkett and Robert Stokes voted for an amendment on the proposed bag ban that actually keeps thicker plastic bags around.
This makes absolutely no sense, and any reasonable person should see that this is doing industry’s bidding at the expense of vulnerable communities and our environment. Making plastic bags thicker does not make them “reusable,” as industry likes to say. Rather, it ensures that even more plastic is polluting our environment and that industry continues to rake in profits.
This is a regressive vote and the council members who supported it should be ashamed. To date, only 9% of the plastic ever made has actually been recycled, and plastic bags are not really recyclable. That means these bags will end up polluting communities throughout Baltimore, our waterways and our Chesapeake Bay. It means these bags will end up in an incinerator or a landfill, continuing the cycle of pollution.
At a time when communities across the country are taking steps forward against plastics, Baltimore caved to industry. The entire life cycle of plastics, from extraction to use to disposal, disproportionately hurts low income communities of color, and the council just voted to stand by as those impacts continue. Baltimore needs leaders who prioritize our people and our environment. These elected officials just showed which side they’re on. Baltimore residents should let the council know they expect better.