The city of Coral Gables, FL is one vote away from passing a ban on plastic bags. There is legislation at the state level which prohibits smaller municipalities from enacting such bans.
“…no local government, local governmental agency, or state government agency may enact any rule, regulation, or ordinance regarding use, disposition, sale, prohibition, restriction, or tax of such auxiliary containers, wrappings, or disposable plastic bags.” – FL Senate 403.7033
The law was passed in 2008, along with a request for report detailing the economic, and environmental impacts of “auxiliary containers, wrapping and disposable plastic bags.” It required that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection file a report by February 2010.
The report was submitted on time, and stated:
“It is recommended that the Legislature review the available options and take action to discourage the use of single-use paper and plastic retail bags and encourage the use of reusable retail bags.” -FL DEP
Seven years later, the Florida legislation has done nothing, and plastic bags continue to be a scourge to the beautiful coast line.
Both branches of the FL legislature have bag ban bill in committee (HR 93, SB 162), and the Coral Gables final vote has been postponed till May. The legislation is still expected to pass, and the city is preparing for the resulting legal battle. In the meantime, other cities throughout Florida are starting to add pressure, saying that if they were allowed, they too would ban the bag. Whatever happens next could set a state wide precedent, but while we wait for politics to run its course, hundreds of thousands of bags blow off our shores and into our waters.
Read the Florida law here.
Read FL DEP report here
Read the WUSF News article here