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Plastic bags are collected in bins in North Myrtle Beach on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

The North Myrtle Beach city council on Monday discussed their proposed single-use plastic bag ban, revealing for the first time the details of the proposed ordinance. No votes were taken on the ordinance.

The ban covers single-use plastic bags of the type commonly used at retailers like grocery stores, but it would not apply to bags used to separate food items, like produce bags, bags used for pharmaceuticals, newspaper bags, trash bags and dry cleaning bags. 

The ban would apply to all retailers, including grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and farmers market vendors. 

If passed, the ban would not become effective right away. Retailers would have almost two years to transition away from plastic, with the proposed ordinance going into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. The original ordinance would have gone into effect in 2024, but councilor Bob Cavanaugh motioned to cut the effective date down to two years.

Mayor Marilyn Hatley said the two years would give businesses time to get rid of their plastic supply. 

“If we’re going to ban plastic bags, need to just go ahead and ban plastic bags,” Hatley said. “It’s just almost like playing a game if you wait five years. So because of the health and the safety and the welfare of our community, to control litter, to keep our oceans clean and our waterways clean and so forth, if we’re going to do this, we need to just go ahead and step up and do it right.”

Local business owner Frank Boulineau said he would have rather had 2024 be the effective date, but said he could live with two years of getting ready for the transition. 

Boulineau said lots of his customers bring their bags back to the store to recycle them.

“One thing I don’t like is the term about single-use bags, because they’re not a single-use bag,” Boulineau said. “Ninety percent of the people who get a bag use it for something else. They use it for a trashcan, they use it for their dirty diapers, they use it for their lunches, that kind of stuff.”

He said that he would be able to phase out everything in two years. 

“I think technology is going to change a lot too,” he said. “Right now the bags they want us to use cost four times what the bag is that we’re using, but I think technology is going to change that over the next year or two.”

The council will have to pass two reading of the ordinance before it becomes law. 

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