sea turtle

Scientists estimate up to 1,000 sea turtles die each year after eating plastic bags.

Legislators to submit bill next session

The audience at a recent Maryland Coastal Bays meeting erupted into applause when Bill Dennison, a scientist and professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies, told them that Maryland legislators would be introducing a ban on single-use plastic when the General Assembly convenes in January.

While holding up a credit card, Dennison told the audience that a study showed that humans ingest that equivalent of plastic per week, on average, from all of the particles that make it into water that humans consume either directly or indirectly from similarly affected marine species. He said his researchers found remnants of plastic in coastal bays oyster larvae.

“No amount of plastic is OK,” he said while detailing how plastic materials make it into the surrounding ocean and bays.

The meeting was held to present the annual report card for the five bays behind Ocean City and Assateague Island, and data from the five-year State of the Bays report, which were mediocre at best. But Dennison managed to work in some good news for the audience with the announcement about the single-use plastic ban legislation.

Regionally, legislators have put similar laws on the books.

Neighboring Delaware passed legislation in 2019 banning plastic carry-out bags in an effort to reduce beach and roadside litter. Several Virginia localities have also imposed taxes on plastic bags, a law that went into effect this past summer.

Maryland has come closer to a ban for a while, with the passage of a law prohibiting the release of plastic balloons in 2021. Before that, a law was passed regulating Styrofoam takeout containers. However, lawmakers have not taken the plunge into banning all plastic bags, and this year might be the year.

The General Assembly 2023 session will convene on Jan. 11 and run through April 10.

This story appears in Nov. 25, 2022 print edition of the OC Today.

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