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Press Releases - County Council

Councilmember Jawando Finds Alternative Solution to Bag Tax Suspension Bill

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, April 15, 2020

ROCKVILLE, Md., April 15, 2020—Councilmember Will Jawando plans to withdraw Expedited Bill 17-20, Carryout Bag Tax Suspension after working collaboratively with members of the community, including the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Sierra Club and other community members to address concerns related to single use bags and reusable shopping bags. The bill was to be voted on at the April 16 Montgomery County Council meeting.

“I appreciate suggestions and thoughtful collaboration with the Sierra Club, UFCW and our county officials to find alternative ways to ensure the safety of our front line grocery workers,” Councilmember Jawando said.

County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles recommends “a number of strategies for using reusable bags including washing them between use, customers packing their own reusable bags at check out and frequently cleaning surfaces in baggage areas.”

In addition, the Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to work on a campaign and resources to remind consumers to wash their reusable bags that can be posted at grocery stores and retail establishments.

“I am glad we have come to a solution related to reusable bags in public retail settings. I am a strong believer in the importance of making more ecologically sustainable choices and am a firm believer in the value of reusable bags,” Councilmember Jawando said.

“We appreciate Councilmember Jawando working with us to keep our members, and all grocery workers and customers in Montgomery County safe and healthy during this crisis,” said Dyana Forester, political and community affairs representative with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 400. “Unfortunately, reusable bags have the potential to be carrying the COVID-19 virus and we need to reduce the possibility for transmission wherever we can. We appreciate Dr. Gayles recommendations to make sure customers are washing their bags and no employee is made to pack a reusable bag. We look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Gayles, Councilmember Jawando and the Department of Environmental Protection on this and other rules and guidance to keep grocery workers safe and healthy.” 

“This solution is a win for public health and for the environment. We applaud Councilmember Jawando's work to ensure customers can continue to use reusable bags,” said Shruti Bhatnagar, chair of the Montgomery County Sierra Club. “Grocery store workers are on the front lines during this emergency,” added Amy Maron, the group’s zero waste leader. “Calling on customers to bag their own items reduces contact with store workers while preserving the bag fee, an important tool in efforts to reduce plastic pollution.”

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Release ID: 20-153
Media Contact: Cecily Thorne 240-777-7972