St. Pete takes another step toward plastic bag ban

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Plastic bags could be going the way of the typewriter, at least in St. Petersburg.

The city's environmental committee voted 3-1 to instruct city staff to write an ordinance that city council would then vote on.

"Plastic doesn't go away. We throw it away, but that doesn't mean it's gone," said Heather Ploch, a city resident who wore blue to the meeting on Thursday. "It definitely hurts to see the mounds of plastic bags."
About a hundred people joined Ploch in wearing blue, to signify safe oceans

The ban wouldn't include bags without handles or ones needed to keep food safe.

"Plastic bags are convenient for the twelve minutes on average that people use them for, but then they last for 500 to a thousand years," said Davey Connor of the Suncoast Rise Above Plastics Coalition.

St Pete would join Coral Gables, as the only other city in Florida to have a ban on plastic bags, which was also concerned about the impact of plastic on wildlife, oceans and landfills.

But there is opposition.

One of Tampa Bay's biggest bag distributors, Publix, told us it is, "Difficult and expensive to comply with a patchwork of local ordinances," and that they haven't decided what to do in Coral Gables yet.

Indeed, the Florida Retail Federation says it could sue.

One Publix shopper says she's against the bag ban because the poor would have to spend money on reusable bags, which stores do charge for.

"It hurts the people who can afford it least."

Supporters of the plastic ban acknowledge it would require either more paper bags - which are much more easily recycled - or an investment in reusable bags.
"I bring the reusable bags, and you know you forget them in your car sometimes, and you have to run out and get them," said Ploch. "It is really worth it."

City staff said they would get to work immediately on writing the ordinance, which could take at least a year to implement.
It would be up to the city council to vote on the ban.