• Plastic bags could be banned in Florida beach towns

    By: Ben Becker , Action News Jax


    Plastic bags could disappear from many local coastal towns under a pilot program proposed by state lawmakers as part of an effort to reduce waste and help the environment.

    “It looks awesome,” said beachgoer Katie Hunsdorf, who goes to the beach with her three children once a week.

    Lurking below the surface, however, may be plastic particles so small they are impossible to see, but could be threatening  the health of marine life and you.

    “It’s very overwhelming,” Hunsdorf said.

    SEE ALSO: Boston bans plastic bans  

    Currently, several statutes in Florida restrict cities from creating environmental legislation, but that could be changing.

    Florida Senate Bill 348 would allow coastal cities with a population of fewer than 100,000 people like St. Augustine Beach and Jacksonville Beach-- to create a two-year pilot program to test banning disposable plastic bags. 

    “The question is, what is the potential impacts of these plastics?” asked marine biologist Dr. Maia Mcguire, who spoke at Marineland on Tuesday.

    Experts say that each year, up to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to more than 1 million bags per minute.

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    “We know a lot of organisms are eating these plastics. By precautionary principal, we better to do something about it now,” McGuire said.

    According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only Hawaii and California have statewide bans on plastic bags. Many cities have their own bans, including one approved in Boston this week.

    The Florida Retail Federation is on record against banning plastic bags, arguing it would create inconsistent regulations and cost jobs. 

    As for Hunsdorf, she said there needs to be a balance. “I think we all need to hone in and realize we have only one Earth. We need to take care of it,” she said.

    The mayor of St. Augustine Beach told Action News Jax the city will institute a voluntary program in March for business and people not to use plastics bags. 

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