NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — North Myrtle Beach voted Wednesday to push back its plastic bag ban to October, not even one week into the ban going into effect.
The ban — which initially went into effect Friday after being approved in 2019 and delayed due to the pandemic — will now go into effect Oct. 1.
The new date buys time for some stores that still have tens of thousands of plastic bags to get rid of as the cost of switching to paper or reusable bags is only getting higher.
At Boulineau’s in North Myrtle Beach, the switch from single-use plastic bags to paper or reusable bags is still ongoing, with estimates that its supply of single-use bags will last another six to eight weeks.
One of the hold ups in the switch is sourcing the alternatives.
“We’ve ordered paper bags from three different suppliers only to have them reach out to us a month or two months in and say ‘Can’t get them. Not going to be able to get them for you,'” said Anna Bowers, communications director at Boulineau’s.
The supply chain backlog is one of the reasons why North Myrtle Beach City Council voted to push the ban back for a third time, also allowing plastic bags at least 2.25 inches thick for at least the next year and a half.
“Still not sold on the 2.25 bags as being an alternative, but it appears to be a better solution than what we have,” council member J.O. Baldwin III. said.
At Boulineau’s, the switch comes with a cost. Brandless paper bags cost an additional 17 cents each — an extra $250,000 a year.
“It’s just going to be a monumental thing and like most things, cost increases get passed onto the consumer,” Bowers said.
Boulineau’s offers reusable bags for 99 cents each or for free with a $100 purchase. Boulineau’s said it’s given away more than 100,000 of the red and blue reusable bags in recent months.
“If shoppers like me start to get it in their heads that ‘Stop using paper and plastic, carry your own, make them reusable,’ that’ll save costs for everybody,” Mary Gallagher said.
The city said enforcement of the ban will eventually start with an education campaign before any tickets or fines are handed out.