Where are grocery bags and other plastics banned in SC? Curious SC checked the list

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The number of South Carolina municipal governments banning plastic bags, plastic straws and foam containers is growing by the day.

To date, 13 municipalities have banned such material.

These ordinances are a step that many plastic ban supporters believe can help save the environment.

Unlike other types of man-made waste, plastic doesn’t decompose, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

However, the bans have resulted in some push back in non-coastal cities, from the plastic industry and some S.C. lawmakers.

State legislators began debate Feb. 28 on Senate Bill 384, which would create a ban on local single-use plastic bans statewide, according to The State newspaper of Columbia..

That move led to an outcry from some local communities who the decision to ban should be made locally.

This situation made one reader ask: “Which communities or municipalities have banned some or all single-use plastics (in the state)?”

Pack your bags here:

Depending on where you travel in the state, there are certain plastic items that are banned.

Arcadia Lakes

This small town within Richland County is noted as the first non-coastal S.C. city to ban single-use plastic and Styrofoam, reported the State.

The Arcadia Lakes Town Council voted to ban most single-use plastic bags, Styrofoam cups, and coolers.

Despite having only 1,000 residents, Arcadia Lakes made headlines for that decision.

Businesses within the community will have until March 2020 to start the ban.

Effective: March, 2020


Charleston passed its plastic ban ordinance — which includes plastic bags, straws and foam containers — Nov. 27, 2018.

The ordinance the City of Charleston passed won’t go into effect until 2020, reported The Post & Courier. However, this move could mean that most stores in the Charleston area won’t offer plastic bags, straws and foam containers.

Effective: Jan. 1, 2020

Folly Beach

Folly Beach followed Isle of Palms to ban single-use plastic bags in the Palmetto State.

A City of Folly Beach news release from 2016 said that even balloons are included in the ban.

“Folly Beach is a close community and our businesses are an integral part of that community,” Lewis Dodson, president of the Folly Association of Businesses said in the city’s 2016 news release. “We saw the damage that non-recyclable plastic bags and Styrofoam were inflicting on our most valuable asset, the beach and ocean, and decided to make a change.”

The city also banned having any type of plastic on its beaches.

Effective: Jan. 1, 2017

Beaufort County (City of Beaufort, Town of Bluffton, Town of Port Royal, Town of Hilton Head)

The towns within Beaufort County went through a slow, arduous process of enacting the plastic bag ban, previously reported by The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette.

Somewhat unique from other parts of the state is that each town within the county voted individually whether to ban plastic. After a year, they all said yes.

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Despite the initial outcry of a few residents that stores were running out of paper bags and the discovery that a few chain retailers are bending the rules a bit, the ordinance is still strictly enforced. Make sure to bring your own bags if you visit this Lowcountry area.

Effective: Nov. 1, 2018

Mount Pleasant

Voting to ban single-use plastic, straws and Styrofoam, ended with little debate and an unanimous vote, reported The Post & Courier. In June, businesses looked at alternatives for its plastic items and Mount Pleasant councilmen even debated whether that should include plastic lids, too.

Effective: April 2019

Isle of Palms

The Lowcountry town was the first municipality in South Carolina to enforce a plastic ban.

At the time though, “plastic” only consisted of single-use plastic bags. The town included other plastic items, such as straws, and foam.

Effective: Dec. 23, 2015

James Island

You won’t be able to use plastic bags, foam or straws at this Charleston County island soon.

The James Island Town Council did the final reading for the plastic ban ordinance Jan. 17, which means retailers will have to use an alternative material, or customers bring their reusable bags.

Effective: January 2020

Surfside Beach

Myrtle Beach started to enter the plastic ban sphere last June when the town decided to ban plastic bags for good. So, far, neighboring Horry County communities haven’t followed suit.

Effective: Oct. 9, 2018

Sullivan’s Island

This island community near Charleston was one of the last to pass a plastic ban.

Apparently the town doesn’t produce much plastic, wrote The Moultrie News, and that became a reason council didn’t pass the ban sooner.

Effective: Dec. 1, 2018

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Briana Saunders answers questions about culture, food, and the environment as the Curious S.C. Reporter for McClatchy’s newspapers. She moved to the Lowcountry after studying Journalism at the University of Missouri, where she led a team reporting the arts and culture of Columbia, Mo. at VOX Magazine.