CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - It is now against the law for restaurants and stores in Charleston County and James Island to use non-recyclable single-use containers such as plastic bags, Styrofoam take-out boxes and cups, and plastic straws.
The ordinance was signed into law on Nov. 27, 2018, with a 13-month grace period to help local businesses plan for the change. That grace period ended on New Year’s Day when the law took effect.
Even with the grace period, restaurant owners say the transition has been difficult because of the lack of recyclable options, as well as the higher cost. Nonetheless, they seem to value the importance of the change, and say the cost in the restaurant is worth the payout for the planet, many of them starting the transition months ago.
"It's taken a long time to get to this point," Jenny Hooker, owner of the Sunflower Cafe said. "But I understand that its at a point that we've all got to do something. We've all got to work together. And even, like I say, with the increase cost as a small business, that's just a part of being a business owner."
"Charleston is completely inundated with creeks and rivers and marshes and wetlands," Caroline Bradner with the Coastal Conservation League said. "And it all goes into our harbor and eventually it all goes into our ocean. And so especially here, all of the plastic liter that you might see on the ground, within a few days its going to end up in a waterway of some type and it will eventually get into our harbor."
A few years ago, The Citadel found 7.6 tons of plastic trash in the Charleston harbor, much of which was single use plastic.
If you are not planning to eat your take out right away, restaurants urge you to move the food into your own container since the recyclable containers are not made to last. And to offset the cost for the local businesses, you can bring your own containers and bags from home.
In a few weeks, lawmakers will once again vote on the “ban on bans” bill that would disallow local municipalities from implementing these bans.
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