RSS Feeds

Bag tax could be coming to Montgomery Co.

Thursday - 3/3/2011, 6:28am  ET

groceries in plastic bags (WTOP Photo/Neal Augenstein)
Montgomery County wants to reduce waste by discouraging plastic bag use. (WTOP Photo/Colleen Kelleher)

Neal Augenstein,

ROCKVILLE, Md. -- It's not a trick question, but if you answer either "plastic" or "paper" in grocery stores in Montgomery County, it may soon cost you a nickel a bag.

County Executive Ike Leggett will officially announce a plan Monday for a 5-cent-a-bag tax to reduce the amount of waste.

"The goal is an environmental objective," Councilmember Roger Berliner tells WTOP he supports the proposed bag tax.

"Look at our streams, you will see plastic bags everywhere -- plastic bags flying in trees everywhere," Berliner says.

Leggett and Berliner point to the District of Columbia as an example where a bag tax is reducing waste.

"So this is an incentive for our residents to bring in durable bags from home, and people do change their behavior in response to this fee," Berliner says.

In Leggett's plan, the county would distribute free cloth bags before the tax would take effect Jan. 1, 2012.

Stores would get a penny a bag for participating, and the remainder would go to the county.

"In the short term it might generate a few million dollars, but really what we hope is it will reduce the number of plastic bags in our an environment," says Berliner.

Follow Neal and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)