Today’s spotlight is on Trash Free Maryland.
This organization is engaged in the important work of keeping garbage out of our ecosystem. They are focused on advocating for public policy solutions that encourage environmentally responsible behaviors – such as bag bills that promote the use of reusable shopping bags and bottle bills that boost beverage container recycling efforts.
Regarding the latter, Michigan has a redemption rate of over 95% of the items covered in the Michigan Beverage Container Act (enacted in 1976, implemented in 1978). The 10-cent deposit rate, of course, provides a significant incentive to recycle those items.
Our new Attorney General-Elect, Senator Brian Frosh, has been an ardent proponent of similar legislation for Maryland, arguing that it would improve our environment, among other benefits. Funds generated by such a program could be directed toward specific purposes, such as cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.
On the Bag Bill front, only three jurisdictions have the legal authority to impose fees on stores that give out disposable bags: Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Montgomery County. The Howard County Council does not possess that authority. The most direct path to bring about such a fee in HoCo would be if a statewide bill passed in Annapolis. Another option would be an outright statewide ban of disposable bags. Of course, fee or ban, the question remains: Would the Governor-elect sign such legislation? If he doesn’t, could Hogan be considered “pro-trash?” How would that play out in 2018?
But let us put aside electoral considerations for the moment. Given the general human aversion to unclean air and water, there are opportunities for bipartisan collaboration when it comes to the environment. Litter is neither a Republican nor a Democratic problem, it impacts us all and incurs significant societal costs. Hopefully, progress can be made in 2015 to reduce the blight of trash in our waterways, by our roads, and in our communities. To that end, I am glad that Trash Free Maryland is forming alliances with community organizations and working to find practical solutions to combat litter.
For more information about Trash Free Maryland, check out their website at:
Stay tuned, as more will follow.