Bill to prevent local plastic bag bans advances

by John Steinberger | April 11, 2019 2:16 pm

A state Senate bill to prevent local governments from banning single-use plastic bags and styrofoam containers advanced to the full Senate Thursday, after passing in the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee. Plastic bag bans have been enacted by 15 state municipalities to date, mostly along the coast. Lowcountry Republican Senators Sandy Senn, Sean Bennett and Tom Davis opposed the legislation (S-394), citing Home Rule. The S.C. Retail Association supports the measure.

The City of Charleston imposed its plastic bag ban in November 2018. The ordinance allowed retailers to phase out issuing the bags and containers over a year. Months later, there has not been much movement to replace the bags with alternatives. Re-usable bags can be ordered for as little as 10 cents apiece or up to 50 cents with colorful logos attached. They are not being offered at most retail outlets. Many fast food chains, including McDonald’s Starbucks, and Chick-Fil-A, have largely reduced their use of plastic and styrofoam in packaging.

The goal of the plastic bag ban movement is to reduce litter, but there is no campaign underway to raise awareness about the harmful impact of littering. Non-profit organizations Keep Charleston Beautiful and Palmetto Pride have access to government grant money available for anti-littering campaigns. A legendary campaign was launched in 1971, featuring a Native American shedding a tear after observing littering on a river bank.

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