Just how dangerous is plastic for marine life?
Myrtle Beach could be the next municipality to enact a ban on single-use plastic bags.
The city’s Beach Advisory Committee met Wednesday afternoon to discuss prohibiting plastic bags specifically on the beach, at the request of city council, but instead passed a motion urging city officials to consider constituting a city-wide ban. The committee agreed it would be difficult to enforce a ban on the beach without an official law in place.
“The consensus from the beach committee is that we would want to prohibit plastics on the beach, but there’s nothing we can do to enforce that if there’s no bigger law that prohibits people from getting the bags,” committee chair Steve Taylor said.
“You run into — how are you going to enforce it if the City of Myrtle Beach does not have a city wide ban, (and) then people are going to walk down there with the bags, so it would have to be some gradual implementation.”
City Manager John Pedersen said the city has yet to discuss enforcement, but advised committee members to explore the matter with nonprofit organization South Carolina Beach Advocates.
Committee member Skeeter Nash said people would be more likely to use reusable shopping bags on the beach if they knew it was their only option.
“I think it’s such a nuisance on the beach when you walk down there and there’s plastic everywhere,” said Nash, adding how plastic has had a negative impact on turtles and other marine life.
Taylor suggested city officials follow in the footsteps of North Myrtle Beach, which on Monday became the second municipality in Horry County to ban single-use plastic bags. The North Myrtle Beach ban will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, with city officials focusing heavily on education and communication prior to the phase in.
“We recognize the damage it can do to the beach,” committee member Pete Pearce said. “We’re in favor of a ban but strongly feel it should be city-wide, not just something that affects the beach.”
Along with North Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach banned single-use plastic bags last year.
Other S.C. areas, including Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, the Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and Bluffton have banned plastic bags from their stores and restaurants. Several restaurants along the Murrell’s Inlet Marshwalk have also switched from plastic straws to paper.