NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A long-delayed ban on single-use plastic bags in the city of North Myrtle Beach could now go into effect next July.
North Myrtle Beach City Council established the new date for implementing the ban on Monday by passing the first reading of an amended ordinance. The original measure before the city council on Monday would have delayed the ban until January 2023.
City council first approved the ban in April 2019. It was scheduled to go into effect last January but was put on hold in May 2020 because of the “catastrophic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.”
City spokesman Pat Dowling said the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce will head up a committee of businesses and volunteers to educate businesses about the requirements of the law and to encourage those that can acquire paper bags to do so.
Businesses are also encouraged to voluntarily start the process before July and to begin to educate residents and tourists so that they can stop using plastic bags as soon as possible. Some businesses have already begun the process, Dowling said.
Cherry Grove businessman Frank Boulineau said two of the largest paper-bag suppliers in the United States recently sold their businesses to China, which stopped making paper bags and now makes cardboard boxes instead, a switch that was made to feed the fast growth in shopping from home via Amazon and other online stores.
Boulineau, who operates an IGA grocery store and other shops, said a paper bag currently costs about five times more than a plastic bag. He said his business has to order one million bags at a time and that he has about a four-month supply left in his warehouse. Despite that, Boulineau said that he has both sold and given away thousands of recyclable bags to many of his customers.
Council member Fred Coyne said the ban is important for the environment and is something the city has to do. However, he said the delays in implementing the ban have been about fairness.
“We’ve got to implement it, but until we have – until the bags are readily available and we know they’re going to be in constant supply for them — we can’t do that,” he said. “It’s just not right and just not fair.”