COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Richland County is one step closer to cutting out single-use plastic bags.
Tuesday night, county council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would prevent businesses from using them at checkout.
If passed, the county would join multiple other communities around the state, which have already approved similar bans:
- Arcadia Lakes
- Beaufort County
- Charleston County
- Edisto Beach
- Folly Beach
- Hilton Head Island
- Isle of Palms
- James Island
- Kiawah Island
- Mount Pleasant
- North Myrtle Beach
- Port Royal
- Sullivan’s Island
- Surfside Beach
Rosewood Market in Columbia is an example of the system already in work. In April, they got rid of their plastic bags, opting for paper, or reusable only.
Owner Bryan Tayara says initially, there were some growing pains, but people quickly moved on.
“It’s kind of a weird thing to do in Columbia, South Carolina, so I guess they’d never heard of it. ‘So what do you mean I don’t get a bag?’ We explained to them that it’s better for the environment. Ever since then, we have had no problems, people understand why we’re doing it,” Tayara said.
Rosewood Market, however, is in the City of Columbia. It would not be affected by Richland County’s ordinance, but the city of Columbia officials have said they will likely follow the county’s lead in the plastic bag conversation.
Moving one step further, Richland County Councilman Jim Manning believes Richland County’s decision could cause plastic bag changes to other cities and counties in South Carolina.
“Richland County often time is a leader for modeling for other county’s good practices,” Manning said.
This ordinance is not new to the county, it has been studied by the council for a year.
Now that it has been unveiled and voted on, Manning says the county at the earliest, could be free of plastic bags next year if the ordinance goes through.
The ordinance, however, still needs to be voted on twice more and the public needs to be allowed to comment. Amidst litter problems on land and plastic in our drinking water Manning believes the move is the right thing to do.
“It’s a little bit of a change, but you know when we went from outdoor to indoor plumbing, that was a change too. Let’s start with the largest problem, get people accustomed and acquainted, and incrementally move into being stewards of our county, our environment, our neighborhood,” Manning said.
If the ordinance does pass and businesses are not compliant, they could face fines of up to 500 dollars. Manning says failure to pay the county-imposed fines, has the potential to affect a store’s county business license.