Could Plastic Bags Soon Be Banned Along the SC Coast?

January 13, 2018, 7:09 am EST | Share:

ISLE OF PALMS, SC (CAROLINE BALCHUNAS, WTAT-TV) — It’s a unique problem for coastal communities and a real problem in Lowcountry waterways – plastic bags.

Andrew Wunderley, Charleston’s Waterkeeper, says plastic is everywhere.

“It’s almost exclusively plastic material that we’re pulling out and one of the top five most common types of plastic debris that we find is plastic bags.”

He is one of the many people opposed to House Bill 3529, which would keep local governments from banning auxiliary containers.

“It’s a really broad definition—anything from a plastic bag to a paper bag, Styrofoam clamshells to little paper takeout boxes to cups,” said Wunderley.

The Isle of Palms banned single-use plastic bags in 2015 while Folly Beach banned foam coolers in 2016.

Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin says the bill violates the state’s home rule.

But supporters of the bill say banning plastic bags would hurt the state’s economy and places a financial burden on retailers and restaurants. Wonderley, though, doesn’t buy it.

“The bill benefits nobody but the plastic industry,” he said. “In South Carolina, we have a great deal of respect for the ability and the capability for local communities to deal with issues like this at the local level.”

The bill was adjourned this week, but lawmakers plan to revisit the issue on January 24th.