Three U.S. Cities Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

Coral Gables, FL, Park City, UT, and Minneapolis are among the most recent U.S. cities to place prohibitions on single-use plastic bags. The regulations are relevant for promotional product distributors, who could find increased opportunities to sell logoed reusable bags to affected retailers and other businesses that want to associate their brand with the eco-friendly ethos that ushered in the restrictions.

Coral Gables became the first city in Florida to ban single-use plastic bags when the City Council voted unanimously this month to prohibit the disposables from being used by retailers and at special city events. The city aims to charge violators a fine of $50 to $500, but fine-levying won’t begin until after the first year, giving businesses a chance to adjust. Interestingly for distributors, Coral Gables is encouraging businesses to promote reusable bags.

The ban does, however, allow for certain plastic bags to continue to be used, including plastic bags that the shopper provides, plastic bags without handles, bags used to hold prescription medicines at a pharmacy or veterinarian’s office, dry cleaning bags, pet waste bags, yard waste or trash bags, and newspaper bags.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis aims to begin its bag ban on June 1. Two City Council members, Cam Gordon and Abdi Warsame, authored legislation instituting the ban following feedback from the public which had raised concerns about the pollution and impact on wildlife that the quickly-discarded bags can cause. As in Coral Gables, the Minneapolis law comes with exemptions including bags for take-out food, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, and bags for some grocery items like produce, bread and meats.

For a time, it was uncertain if Minneapolis would be able to proceed with its planned plastic bag clampdown. That’s because some state legislators were keen on a bill that would have prevented cites throughout Minnesota from enacting plastic bag bans. The state bill, however, didn’t have enough steam behind it to hit the books.

Elsewhere, Park City became the first city in Utah to institute a ban on plastic bags – sort of. The city council there voted unanimously last week to approve the prohibitions, urged on by a crowd that favored a ban as a means to help reduce litter, the Desert News reported.

Still, the Park City regulations come with a rather glaring caveat: They only apply to grocery stores of more than 12,000 square feet. In Park City, the only businesses that are subject to the ban are The Market at Park City, Rite Aid and Fresh Market. City officials said they wanted to start with large grocery stores before possibly expanding the ban to cover more businesses.