Charleston Plastics

The Coastal Conservation League is working within our community to reduce plastic pollution in the Charleston region, where our state’s first single-use bag ban at point of sale was adopted in 2015 by the Isle of Palms.

Recent studies in Charleston waters reveal the presence of microfibers in a variety of our marine life, including oysters, one of Charleston’s signature seafood items. It is estimated that seven tons of microplastics are currently in our very own Charleston Harbor.

Though research shows that policy tools like bans are effective, the most effective thing we can do is curb our consumption.

Remember: REFUSE, reduce, reuse, recycle.

In the meantime, at the local level, we are supporting municipalities as they consider single-use plastic bans. On Isle of Palms, many of our coalition members pushed the initiative on social media and through action alerts, led by students, parents, and concerned citizens. After this historic ban passed, other municipalities along the coast took notice.

Isle of Palms (2015)

Isle of Palms passed the first single-use plastic bag ban in our state in 2015 that was entirely community led and set precedent for future plastics ordinances.

Folly Beach (2016)

For several years, we have interviewed business owners in the City of Folly Beach about the impacts of a potential single-use plastic bag ban. The Folly Association of Businesses and Folly council members took up the cause, and unanimously passed two ordinances in the fall of 2016. The first bans single-use plastic bags, polystyrene (Styrofoam) coolers, and polystyrene to-go containers at point of sale within Folly’s municipal boundaries. The second ordinance bans single-use plastic bags, polystyrene (Styrofoam) coolers, polystyrene to-go containers, and balloons from the beach on Folly.

Mount Pleasant (2018)

In early 2018, after years of considering a solution to plastic pollution, leadership in the Town of Mount Pleasant worked to draft an ordinance. After months of public input and several meetings with resounding support from the community, Council passed their ban. This also came after the Charleston Metro and Mount Pleasant chambers of commerce shared the draft ordinance and news of its potential adoption to all of their members and told Council that their members would comply with whatever the Town ultimately decided.

Mount Pleasant’s ban not only made history as the largest municipality to adopt such an ordinance, but also as the most comprehensive single-use plastics ordinance in the state’s history at the time. Their ban addresses single-use bags, polystyrene (Styrofoam), and straws (unless there is a physical or medical need) and will go into effect in April 2019.

City of Charleston (2018)

In 2016, after hearing from concerned citizens, Mayor Tecklenburg of the City of Charleston convened a “Plastic Bag Minimization” Committee. The Committee, made up of business, conservation, and citizen interests, was tasked with studying the issue of plastic bag use and pollution in Charleston, as well as studying what other municipalities and states have done to address the problem. The Committee developed and distributed an electronic survey for business owners and citizens regarding plastic bag use and opinions on policies. The Committee compiled the data results, and then the Committee’s work was placed on hold. The groups comprising the Committee and the Committee’s work can be found here. In 2018, Mayor Tecklenburg and city staff reignited the issue and again worked with all stakeholders to hold public meetings and eventually pass an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags, polystyrene (Styrofoam), and straws (unless there is a physical or medical need). The City’s ban will go into effect in January 2020, as the city works with stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition and support for all businesses and residents.

James Island (2019)

In 2018, the town of James Island began considering a plastics ban after the City of Charleston finally passed theirs after almost three years of consideration and significant public feedback. In early 2019, the town’s ban officially passed and it mirrors the City of Charleston’s as it bans single-use plastic bags, polystyrene (Styrofoam), and straws (unless there is a physical or medical need). The ban goes into effect in January 2020.

Charleston County (2019)

In early 2019, Charleston County decided to consider a plastics ban for unincorporated areas of the county following the significant momentum throughout the county. In March 2019, council passed a ban that is nearly identical to Mount Pleasant and the City of Charleston, banning single-use plastic bags, polystyrene (Styrofoam), and straws (unless there is a physical or medical need). The ban goes into effect in September 2019.

What products are businesses using?

The map below illustrates the type of products that businesses in the Charleston region currently use for takeout bags, containers, and more. If you don’t see your business listed, please reach out to Caroline Bradner at (843) 723-8035 to get on the map!

Caroline Bradner · [email protected] · 843.723.8035

Stay Up-To-Date

Sign up for the latest news from the Coastal Conservation League and find out how you can get involved in our efforts.