South Carolina

‘Get the ball rolling’: Horry County taking a look at joining others with plastic bag ban

Single-use plastic bag bans could become county-wide, following a recommendation from Horry County Council’s administration committee.

Council member Orton Bellamy is championing the policy change following a visit to the Horry County Solid Waste Authority’s landfill off Highway 90. He said bags were polluting the county, causing financial strains on the SWA, which has to to clean them up.

“We’ve looked at this the last several months,” Bellamy said. “You had plastic bags in pine trees that were in pine trees 80 feet tall.”

The ban would be on single, non-reusable plastic bags given out at grocery stores, gas stations and shopping malls. The alternatives would be paper bags or reusable plastic bags.

Council member Bill Howard has already switched to plastic-less bags in his businesses. He said it’s time for the rest of the county to make the swap to reusable bags.

“I’ve already gone to paper bags in my businesses, they’re kind of cute,” Howard said. “I think we need to move this forward, At least get the ball rolling and say we’re interested in doing something.”

Passing such an ordinance would bring Horry County into line with North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach, which have already passed similar bans. SWA Director Danny Knight said these bags are a public nuisance that creates litter, decomposes slowly and can harm wildlife and fish.

“They’re bad news,” he said. “A million bags produced a minute and where do they go?”

Notably, the committee was interested in looking at Beaufort County and the bag ban policy passed there. The Beaufort ordinance bans plastic bags to be given out in the county limits except for dry cleaning bags, for medicine or for the bags in produce sections to keep the food fresh.

The ordinance was passed in January of 2018 and gave businesses eight months to make the adjustment to a post-plastic bag operation.

Beaufort also encourages companies to put signage around the store letting folks know why plastic bags are bad for the community.

Plastic bag bans are being passed all across the county, and Myrtle Beach City Council is considering a ban currently. Bellamy said when he was stationed in Germany with the Army, the grocery stores there required people to bring their own bags.

The committee’s recommendation to council is being drafted by Horry County staff and will require three readings. It will be similar to the ordinances in Beaufort County, and will line up with the Jan. 1, 2021 deadline passed in North Myrtle Beach’s ordinance.