Elected Officials Discuss Single-Use Plastics During Wed. Meeting

A working group is being formed to study this issue.


Frederick, Md (KM). A working group is being formed to study the issue of plastic bags and other single-use plastic products. During Wednesday’s County Council and Board of Aldermen meeting, Councilman Kai Hagen discussed that idea with his fellow elected officials. “I’m interested in putting together this group. I don’t seeing it being that large: six to 10 people, ” he said. “It’s not, again, to draft legislation, but to do the preliminary research to help shape and defend the particular approach that we would take.”

Councilman Hagen said the working group would look into how other communities have dealt with plastic bags and other single-use plastic products, and make recommendations. He said he would like the group to finish up it work by mid-September, but there is no hard deadline to meet.

Plastic bag litter has been a concern for a few years. These products don’t biodegrade, and they break down into micro-plastics which can get into the food chain. Councilman Jerry Donald said they seem to be everywhere. “I was going down the Golden Mile one day, and holy cow, there were more plastics on the trees than leaves. It was just awful. And you see all the time,” he said.

A number of countries around the world, including Canada, have banned plastic bags. The European Union is phasing out plastic bags. Some US states have also banned them, the latest being Delaware and Maine.

Councilman Steve McKay said there seems to be more discussion about banning when it comes to plastic bags. He says he’s against a ban, would like to see more incentives being used to encourage people to properly dispose of plastic bags. “I’d personally prefer the bottle deposit approach It’s a fee to take one, and you get the fee back when you return one,” he said.

In his presentation, Councilman Hagen said there are alternatives to plastic bags, including some made with cornstarch. Council Vice President Michael Blue would like to see more emphasis on using alternatives rather than a ban. “I’m not in favor of any bans. I’m not favor of any fees or levees or taxes on plastics. I’m more in favor of finding alternatives and offering incentives for people to use alternative options as opposed to a ban or a tax,” he said.

Alderman Ben MacShane said educating people on the proper disposal of plastic bags can convince a lot of people, but that may not be enough. “I don’t know that simply educating people really will start fixing the problem. It hasn’t yet. And it may require some inconvenient changes,” he said. “And while plastic bags are convenient, many problematic, destructive things are convenient.”

And when the working group convenes, it will need to find answer to a lot of problems, says Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak. “What percentage is medical waste? What percentage of the plastic waste, the single use,  is from businesses? What percentage is from residential uses,’ she asked.

And when the working group gets down to work, Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer said it must not forget the agriculture community. “I have heard from quite a few members of the Farm Bureau. They are very concerned about what this means for them,” she said. “They get all of their feed, all of their fertilizer, their seed, everything comes in some sort of single-use plastic container of some kind.”

Councilman Hagen asked anyone whose interested in service on the working group or helping out to contact him.


By Kevin McManus