Plastic bag use in stores could soon be a thing of the past in Coral Gables after the City Commission voted Tuesday on an item banning the products.
Commissioners gave initial approval to the ordinance, which will require a second vote. The action sets the city up to be the first municipality in Florida to ban plastic bag use.
The ordinance will ban plastic bag use by retailers in Coral Gables and at city special events. The ordinance does provide for exceptions including: plastic bags that the shopper provides, plastic bags without handles, bags used to hold prescription medicines at a pharmacy or veterinarian’s office, dry cleaning bags, pet waste bags, yard waste or trash bags and newspaper bags.
Violators would be warned first, but then could be fined, starting at $50 and increasing to $500 after a third violation in a one-year period.
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The item also encourages businesses to promote the use of reusable bags and gives retailers the option to provide reusable or paper bags for a fee of at least 10 cents.
The proposal follows a court ruling upholding the city’s Styrofoam ban in a lawsuit brought by the Florida Retail Federation. The federation sued the city last July on behalf of its members including Super Progreso, a company that owns a 7-Eleven franchise in the Gables, after the commission gave final approval to the ban in February 2016.
As with the Styrofoam ban, city leaders met with members of the city’s chamber of commerce and business improvement district to discuss the a ban on plastic bags.
Palm Beach County, Jacksonville Beach and other cities have sponsored resolutions in support of plastic bag bans and officials including state Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, have sponsored legislation calling for a ban in select areas of the state.
Plastic bags were banned across California last year, and other cities including Seattle and Austin, Texas, have also prohibited their use.