City of College Park Passes Better Bag Ordinance to Reduce Plastic Bag Litter and Waste
Updated: May 23
April 6, 2023, College Park MD – The City of College Park is pleased to announce the new Better Bag Ordinance to reduce single-use plastic bag waste and litter in our local waterways and tributary system. Passed during the February 14, 2023, Council meeting and effective September 1, 2023, the Better Bag Ordinance will restrict the use of non-reusable plastic bags given or received at the point of purchase by City retailers and restaurants. “Keeping the City of College Park beautiful and sustainable is a major initiative for the city,” said Mayor Pro Tem Denise Mitchell, “by reducing single-use plastic bags, we can improve our community’s waterways, cleanliness, and overall health.”
This new Ordinance encourages shoppers and patrons to use reusable bags for their groceries and other purchases. As part of the Ordinance, alternative bags like paper bags or reusable bags can be provided, but retailers must charge a minimum of $.10 per bag and may retain the entirety of the fee to cover costs. Restaurant carry-out bags are included in the Ordinance. There are exemptions to this law, like bulk food, meat, ice, or produce packaging; for a full list of exemptions please visit www.collegeparkmd.gov/betterbag.
Public engagement through a City Sustainability Survey and the City’s Committee for a Better Environment’s outreach revealed that members of the College Park community ranked litter as one of the most prevalent environmental issues within the City. “Small changes by businesses and residents that encourage sustainable behavior can reduce the amount of waste and promote a cleaner, greener College Park” said City Manager Kenny Young.
Single-use plastic bags end up in our trees, streets, parks, and waterways, blocking storm drains and polluting our environment. Unfortunately, according to the EPA, only about 3% of single-use plastic bags are recycled nationwide. Further, single-use plastic bags are not accepted in the City’s recycling program because Prince George’s County, which receives City recycling materials, does not accept them at their Materials Recycling Facility as they damage sorting equipment. By restricting the use of single-use plastic bags, the Better Bag Ordinance will help the city meet its sustainability goals laid out in the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan for a more sustainable College Park.
To help alleviate the cost of reusable bags on the College Park community, the city will begin distributing a limited supply of reusable bags to City residents later this year. Dates and locations for bag distribution will be announced via City communication channels including City social media and email. The community is encouraged to sign up for City emails at www.collegeparkmd.gov/cpconnect and to follow the City’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn pages.
Once the Better Bag Ordinance goes into effect on September 1, 2023, City Code Enforcement will enforce the ban through citations and fines for non-compliance for each violation. Community members can report non-compliance via the City’s reporting system available at www.collegeparkmd.gov/tellus.
For more information about the Better Bag Ordinance, please visit www.collegeparkmd.gov/betterbag.