North Carolina

Bag Ban May Be Ineffective Against Tourist Polluters

Last modified on July, 6 2009 by Site Administrator

The North Carolina General Assembly recently passed Bill 1018, a ban on single-use plastic and non-recyclable paper bags in Hyde, Currituck and Dare counties. The intention of the ban is to protect the marine habitat of the Barrier Islands. Once the governor confirms the bill, the ban is scheduled to take effect on September 1, 2011.

A Wal-Mart executive welcomes the ban: “Wal-Mart has been a leader around the country in gradually removing plastic bags from our stores, and easing people in to reusable bags. We’re a corporate leader in the green movement.” But will the ban be effective? Only large retailers like Wal-Mart will have to remove the plastic option. It appears that tourism is often a culprit of beach-side littering. Bill 1018 states:

Inhabited barrier islands are visited by a high volume of tourists and therefore experience a high consumption of bags relative to their permanent population due to large numbers of purchases from restaurants, groceries, beach shops, and other retailers by the itinerant tourist population.
Banning plastic bags from large stores such as Wal-Mart will not cut down plastic bag usage at most restaurants, smaller grocery stores and beach shops. It appears that the ban does not target the tourist population, but the average North Carolina resident who purchases necessities at large-chain retailers.

Another problem with the legislation occurring with North Carolina is the lack of research. The effects of the ban will remain unknown due to the fact that the North Carolina General Assembly has not contracted a formal land- or marine-based litter composition study to assess the impact of plastic bags on the environment. Further study should be done to ensure that Bill 1018 will be an effective and relevant use of state resources.


North Carolina Senate Bill 1018
The Senate approved General Assembly Bill 1018 suggests that plastic bags have a detrimental effect on North Carolina because they “contribute to overburdened landfills, threaten wildlife and marine life, degrade the beaches and other natural landscape…” No studies have been contracted by the General Assembly to show that plastic bags play a significant roll in these factors. The bill will only apply chains of five or more locations or any retail space of more than 5,000 square feet. Once the governor has signed the bill, it will go into effect on September 1, 2009.

Wal-Mart OK with plastic bag ban from the Daily Advance - July 5, 2009
This article reports on the surprising response of some retailers in North Carolina to the impending bag ban. A Wal-Mart executive welcomes the ban, citing Wal-Mart as a leader in green initiatives. There is only one Wal-Mart that will be affected by the ban. Other stores that who have more locations in these counties were not represented in the article.

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