Wakulla County considering plastic bag ban

Wakulla County considering plastic bag ban
Wakulla County considering plastic bag ban
Posted at 4:45 PM, May 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-18 16:45:00-04

WAKULLA COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) - Paper or plastic? It's a question you might hear before you leave a store, but a Wakulla County Commissioner doesn't want there to be a choice at all.

"Right now, if it's made out of plastic, it never goes away, and every piece of plastic we've ever made is still in our environment," said Wakulla County Commissioner Chuck Hess.

Hess is pushing for the county to ditch single-use plastic bags for good.

On Crawfordville Highway, we found a few wet bags on the side of the road.

Some residents say the issue is where the bags come from.

"It troubles me when I sit outside of a retail store and see the number of plastic bags that are going out of the store and people that are not taking the initiative to bring a reusable bag in," said Crawfordville resident Shelley Swenson.

Some local businesses don't use plastic bags at all. Bay Leaf Market has other ways to pack purchases.

"Many of our customers bring their own bags in the store already and it has not been a problem for us at all," said Mary Katherine Westmark, Co-owner of Bay Leaf Market.

While the county is considering putting a ban on plastic bags, local government can't really do anything about it. That's because a state statute prohibits county regulation.

The county would need to ask the Florida Legislature to remove those restrictions, but Wakulla County Commission Chair, Ralph Thomas, says that would lead to a slippery slope.

"The next thing we want to do is ban straws or ban cups at a McDonald's drive-thru, you know? There's always something else that could potentially be the culprit and really, the problem is the person," said Thomas.

Next week, commissioners will consider scheduling a public hearing about new penalties for littering.

And last week, the county held a workshop about the bag ban.

"It's going to be good for Wakulla County. This would be good for the whole state," said Hess.

The county commission will vote on approving a public hearing for the littering ordinance at its next meeting on May 21 at 5 p.m.