Mt. Pleasant to move forward with possible ban of plastics

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The town of Mt. Pleasant is one step closer to banning certain one-time use plastics.

On Tuesday night, Town Council voted to move forward with an ordinance to put a ban on some plastic and Styrofoam products.

"If you think about that the average person uses 350 bags a year, let's say a thousand people stop using plastic bags, that's 350,000 bags taken out of circulation every year," said Kelly Thorvalson, the Conservation Programs Manager for the South Carolina Aquarium.  If you multiply that number by the population of Mt. Pleasant, over 80,000, you do the math."

To one member of Council, this possible future ordinance sounds like a ban on plastic bags.

"If this is going to be a plastic bag ban, let's say it's a plastic bag ban rather than being vague," Town Councilman Joe Bustos said.

Councilman Jim Owens, who is spearheading the possible ordinance, said it doesn't just relate to plastic bags.

Part of the proposed ordinance says it's a way to protect marine and wildlife as well as the waterways.

Thorvalson said the aquarium is seeing single-use plastic materials in the animals they take care of.

"The things people use once and toss into the trash, those things don't go away ever, really," said Thorvalson."They break down into smaller and smaller pieces but they're never really gone."

One man spoke out against the possible ordinance, saying it's not everyone who isn't properly disposing of their trash.

"It almost feels like a punishment for the mass majority of towns people  who have done nothing wrong, who are perfectly responsible with their trash," one man said to Council. "So, I would consider you to think of the implications of this to hold an entire population accountable for the irresponsibility of a few."

A bill is making its way through the South Carolina General Assembly that wouldn't allow local municipalities to make their own rules with issues like this, but council is already thinking of what to do if it comes to that.

"We would still have a campaign, and at the end we may have an ordinance that's allowed by the state or we would just have a really good campaign," said Town Mayor Will Haynie.

Owens said by moving forward, it could send a bigger picture to state leaders.

The ordinance will now go before a few other committees before coming back to Town Council for a first reading in March.

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