ATLANTA – Late last week, the Georgia Senate voted to prohibit cities and towns throughout the state from banning plastic bags, saying it would be too expensive and “confusing” for local retailers to worry about.
The debate over banning plastic bags has become increasingly relevant in Georgia recently, with officials in Athens and the coastal town of Tybee Island having discussed local bans due to environmental concerns as well as concerns about litter and the petrochemicals used in making the bags.
Senate Bill 139 passed by a 32-19 vote and will now go to the Georgia State House. While the bill’s expressed support for local retailers has garnered sympathy from many, environmentalists have taken to calling SB 139 the “plastic bags everywhere” bill and suggest that the decision whether or not to ban plastic bags should be decided at the local, not state, level.
In September, California became the first state to enact a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, although opponents of the ban have collected signatures to put a referendum on the ballot next year to let voters decide the issue.