Carolina Beach to revisit plastic bag fee

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Carolina Beach Town Hall
Carolina Beach Town Hall

After hearing a presentation from the town’s ad hoc Plastic Bag Committee, the Carolina Beach Town Council will look into the idea of implementing a fee on single-use plastic bags in town.

After adopting a resolution on Sept. 13, 2013 that supported a county-wide initiative to lessen the negative impact of plastic bags on the environment, town council created an ad-hoc committee in August 2014 that was charged with researching and compiling information on ways to reduce the use of plastic bags in the community. The committee met for the first time in October 2014 and has spent the last year compiling a 200-page document of their facts and findings, which they presented to council last week.

The document outlined four different options: keeping the status quo and recycling, an education-only program, implementing a bag fee or banning them outright. The committee listed pros and cons and gave examples of municipalities that have those policies in place.

While restrictions on single-use plastic bags are common in some parts of the country, particularly on the West Coast, there are currently no municipalities in North Carolina that have fees. Seaside towns in the Outer Banks have banned plastic bags through a state law, but the state legislature wrote the law so narrowly that it applies only to the barrier islands in Hyde, Currituck and Dare Counties, according to the committee.

Carolina Beach councilmembers requested a separate meeting or workshop with the plastic bag committee to have more time to study the document and get caught up on the issue. While an outright ban on the bags is highly unlikely because it would require a legislative change on the state level, the town is interested in adopting a fee and using the revenue from that for education, environmental education and other programs.

No date has been set for the special meeting, but it will be open to the public.