Florida Could Ban Plastic, Paper Bags

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A proposed ban in Florida is calling for all disposable paper and plastic bags to be permanently phased out over the next five years, encouraging to use of reusable bags.

While Miami news station WPLG reports that this move could benefit the environment as Floridians use an estimated 5 billion disposable bags per year, this legislation could cost residents extra cash as well.

Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

According to the EPA, about 12 percent of plastic bags and wraps were recycled in 2007. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

Earlier this month, the Department of Environmental Protection released its “Retail Bags Report” draft. According to the report, the phase-out would start with public education, graduated fees, followed by a total ban on the bags at all retail stores.

“The greatest concern I have, as to how it would relate to that, would be how it would impact our environment,” says Gov. Charlie Crist as reported by WPLG. “It’s hard to grow up in Florida and not care about our beauty.”

Other cities, including Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles have debated both plastic bag bans and taxes, but Florida would be the first state to outlaw both disposable materials.

According to the American Chemistry Council, about 89 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are used each year in the U.S. while Americans use an estimated 10 billion paper bags.

During production, plastic bags generate 50 percent less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, require 70 percent less energy and produce 80 percent less waste than their paper alternatives. However, because of their light weight, many curbside recycling programs do not accept plastic bags or film. And while brown paper bags are recyclable, only 10 to 15 percent are returned for recycling.

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