Paying for plastic? Greenville councilman wants city to consider plastic bag fee

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Greenville City Councilman Russell Stall is exploring the possibility of the city imposing a plastic bag fee.

Thirteen cities and counties in South Carolina, most along the coast, have banned the bags, citing concerns about litter and water pollution.

“I don’t think a ban would work here,” Stall said.

Councilmember Russell Stall

But a fee could reduce the number of plastic bags consumers use and keep litter down, he said. “When the Reedy River floods, you can see how big a problem plastic bags are,” he said.

Boston has an ordinance requiring restaurants, retailers, and grocery stores that provide “checkout bags” to charge customers no less than 5 cents each for them. Bags that hold loose produce or are used to wrap meat or fish are not subject to the fee. Neither are laundry or dry-cleaner bags, or bags in which newspapers are delivered.

Tina Belge, executive director of Keep Greenville County Beautiful, said that in some places, fees have reduced plastic bag usage by as much as 80 percent.

Belge, who said her group is also working with Keep Travelers Rest Beautiful to study plastic bag fees, said grocery stores Lidl and Aldi already charge for bags.

South Carolina cities with plastic bag bans:

  • Isle of Palms was the first municipality in South Carolina to ban plastic bans.
  • Since then the following cities have followed suit:
    • coastal Charleston
    • Folly Beach
    • Beaufort County
    • The city of Beaufort
    • Bluffton
    • Port Royal
    • Hilton Head
    • Mount Pleasant
    • James Island
    • Surfside Beach
    • Sullivan’s Island
    • Arcadia Lakes to ban single-use plastic and foam cups and containers starting in March 2020
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