Columbia, SC (WLTX)- The state bill to prohibit local governments from passing plastic bag bans is set for debate on the House’s calendar this week.
The bill would protect single-use bags, cups, food containers, and other packages from being prohibited in any local law.
Local governments on the coast, like Isle of Palms and Folly Beach, passed ordinances last year in an attempt to cut down on pollution.
“They would take action, they worked with local businesses, and they decided to prevent folks from using single-use plastic bags,” Coastal Conservation League’s Alan Hancock said. “That for some reason has lead to an attempt to ban those sorts of bans across the state.”
The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Eric Bedingfield said they have the support from chambers of commerce from around the state and business associations, who say the bans have a negative impact on economic development.
“Even those businesses who operate in multiple municipalities would have multiple laws to comply with,” Bedingfield said. “That’s senseless to me from a business perspective and a consumer perspective.”
Shoppers at the local Midlands grocery store, Earth Fare, said state lawmakers need to support the betterment of the environment.
“Government work is for the betterment of the entire community, and those decisions should be made on what is scientifically established to be sustainable in the improvement of the quality of life that every individual gets to live,” shopper Kenneth Thibodeaux said.
Store spokesperson, Laurie Aker, said the company stopped using plastic bags a decade ago, and have since established incentives programs for customers who bring reusable bags.
“If one person were to swtich over and use reusable shopping bags for a lifetime, they would at least save 22,000 plastic bags from going into landfills, and unfortunately into our oceans, beaches and our environment as a whole,” Aker said.
Bedinfield said he wants that decision to remain in the hands of businesses and consumers.
“I am not telling municipalities that they cant ban the use of single use plastic bags on the beach,” he said. “I’m telling them they cant ban that transaction between a retailer and a consumer.”
Theres really no harm in allowing local governments to decide what’s best for their communities,” Hancock said. “Folks in Columbia across the street at the statehouse have bigger priorities than these local initiatives that are important to local communities but aren’t necessarily appropriate for the state to take up.”