City of South Fulton will ban certain plastic bags and containers beginning March 1 as an effort to reduce the negative impacts of single-use plastic products.
The measure, which was approved by city council members in October 2019, became effective on Sept. 1 of last year. To ease the burden on consumers and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the council adopted an amendment last August postponing the ban for six months.
“With the passing of this legislation, we are joining a global effort to reduce waste, prioritize sustainability and protect our environment,” Council member Carmalitha Gumbs said. “It is our hope that this measure will encourage residents to increase recycling and other waste-reduction practices, as well as motivate our business community to play a substantial role in making South Fulton a greener and more eco-friendly community.”
Items prohibited by the ordinance include plastic cups and straws, food containers as well as grocery, newspaper, door-hanger and laundry and dry-cleaning bags.
The ordinance applies to any “corporation, partnership, business venture, public sports or entertainment facilities, government agency, street vendor or vendor at public events or festivals, or organizations that sell or provide merchandise, goods or materials, including clothing, food, beverages, household goods or personal items of any kind directly to a customer.”
Examples of those entities include department, clothing, jewelry, home improvement, package and convenience stores, as well as pharmacies, gas stations, restaurants, food vending trucks, farmers markets and temporary food and merchandise vendors at street fairs and festivals.
City officials continue to permit the use of bags and containers that are certified compostable, 100% recyclable or created using recycled materials. They also have directed the city’s procurement staff to require vendors to avoid packaging containing single-use plastics.
According to the Earth Day Network, Americans use more than 100 billion plastic shopping bags and 25 billion expanded polystyrene cups every year, in addition to 500 million plastic straws every day. Many of those items end up in storm drains, along roadsides and in other areas, where they pose a threat to wildlife.
These and other environmental concerns have led cities, states and countries around the world to adopt legislation banning or restricting packaging containing single-use plastics.