Folly bans plastic bags from the beach

Bag ban hits the sand

Folly Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to prohibit the use of single-use plastic bags, balloons, and all polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) plates, cups, and containers on the beach. Those found violating that ban could face a fine up to $500 or 30 days in jail.

Effective immediately, the new ordinance comes just one month after Folly Beach officials passed new rules that will prevent businesses from distributing single-use plastic bags to customers. With plastic bags soon to be no longer an option, stores are asked to provide or make available to customers reusable carry-out bags or recyclable paper bags.

The ordinance also prohibits businesses from selling or providing customers with polystyrene foam coolers or cups. Taking effect at the start of next year, businesses found in violation of the ban would face a $100 fine on first offense, $200 for the second, and $500 for each additional violation during a 12-month period. Repeat offenders could also have their business licenses suspended or revoked by the city.

Folly Beach efforts follow the Isle of Palms ban, which in 2015 became the first municipality in South Carolina to put in place a ban on single-use plastic bags. The Isle of Palms’ ban also passed by a unanimous vote from City Council, and the ordinance officially went into effect at the start of this year.

Hoping to gather information on how residents throughout the city of Charleston feel about single-use plastic bags, a coalition of city, county, and private environmental groups released a survey this summer. Although the survey’s introduction states that residents should not assume any foregone conclusions regarding future bans on plastics in the city, it is also written that the survey’s purpose is to “gauge support, concern, and information gaps regarding possible ways to reduce plastic bags in our communities.”

The introduction later adds, “We are interested in exploring ways to minimize the use of plastic — specifically, single-use plastic bags — to benefit the health and natural beauty of our community.”

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