Surfside Beach takes first step toward banning plastic bags

Surfside Beach takes first step toward banning plastic bags

From WMBF News partner

By Viraj Naik

Surfside Beach Town Council wants to ban the bags.

Town leaders on Tuesday voted 6-1 in favor of outlawing single-use plastic bags.

"This is something for our coastal community that's very important," said council member Julie Samples, adding that several locals had also made comments supporting the ban. "Let's see if we can make this thing happen."

Samples originally proposed the idea at town council's Dec. 12 meeting, citing litter and environmental concerns.

Council then directed the town's staff to come back to the first council meeting of the new year with a proposal.

David Pellegrino was the only council member to vote against the ban. He said he'd prefer to research the issue and the arguments for and against the bags before voting. He challenged other council members to do the same.

"There's two sides to every decision," he said. "And it's my responsibility to understand both sides to a decision before I vote."

The proposed ban would prohibit anyone from providing a bag at any town facility, town-sponsored event or event held on town property.

If passed, businesses in the town limits would be prohibited from giving patrons single-use carryout bags. Stores would also be required to "provide or make available or sell" reusable carryout bags or recyclable paper bags, according to the ordinance.

Businesses would be encouraged to have signage advising customers of the benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling and promoting the use of reusable carryout bags and recyclable paper carryout bags.

Businesses that fail to comply with those guidelines would, after an initial warning, be fined $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second one in the span of a year and $500 for each additional violation within a year.

"Each day that a violation continues will constitute a separate offense," the ordinance states.

Some bags would still be permissible under the proposal, including laundry dry-cleaning bags, door-hanger bags, newspaper bags and packages of multiple bags intended to be used as garbage.

Bags used by customers that contain bulk items such as nuts and grains or those that are used to wrap frozen foods, meat, or fish, flowers, potted plants or other items to prevent wetness to other items, or house unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods would also be exempt from the rule.

Surfside shoppers would also be able to bring their own plastic bags to a business in order to hold items that aren't placed in a bag provided by the store.

The ordinance would require a second favorable vote before becoming permanent. If that happens, the policy would take effect June 1.

Council members will take another vote at their next meeting on Jan. 23.

Check back for more details.

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