Florida Town Set to Ban Plastic Bags

Coral Gables, FL, is poised become the latest U.S. municipality to ban single-use plastic bags. Earlier this month, the city commission gave initial approval to a bag ban. A final vote to turn the ordinance into law will likely come at its March 28 meeting. If it passes, Coral Gables will be the first Florida town to ban plastic bag use.

The Coral Gables ordinance would prohibit distribution of single-use plastic bags by retailers and at city special events. There are exceptions for plastic bags provided by the shopper, bags without handles, bags used to hold prescription drugs, dry cleaning bags, pet waste bags, yard waste and trash bags, and newspaper bags. Those who violate the ban would first receive a warning. Subsequently, they could be fined, starting at $50 and escalating to $500 after three violations in one year. Retailers have the option of providing reusable or paper bags for a fee of at least 10 cents. After final adoption, there’s a six-month window built in before any fines would be levied.

“We have to be more conscious of the environment,” said ordinance sponsor Vince Lago. “I feel that we can coexist, and I think the business community can adapt.”

Some 200 municipalities in the U.S. have prohibited or restricted one-time use containers, and several other local governments are in the midst of crafting their own bans.