MILTON — Milton has decided to join other Florida municipalities united in an initiative to lessen the negative impacts of single-use plastic bags on the environment.
An ordinance before the council would allow the city to enact regulations governing the use of plastic grocery bags if the state does not decide to regulate them.
Councilwoman Heather Hathaway motioned during the March 5 Executive Committee meeting to support the initiative and move forward with the resolution and Councilman Alan Lowery seconded.
The motion passed with all council members in favor. The item will be on the the March 13 City Council meeting agenda and a final decision will be made.
Lowery said he recently spoke with a resident about other Florida governments that have enacted similar ordinances.
“To me, this is more than just plastic bags,” Lowery said. “I think it is important that we pass (this) simply because we need to be the ones making the decisions.”
The ordinance opposes statewide preemption on local efforts to determine the best course of action with regards to protection of the local environment and tourism economy. According to the ordinance, the unrestrained usage of single-use shopping bags and their usual disposal rates creates a hindrance on the city’s waste reduction and recycling goals while creating unsightly litter.
“It’s a question of home rule,” Planning Director Randy Jorgenson said. “That’s what I think is being acted on in the legislature and I encourage you to pass it.”
The council has acknowledged that some local businesses have taken steps to achieve the goal of lessening plastic bag usage.
Mayor Wesley Meiss predicts similar changes statewide, even nationwide, within 10 years.
“I think the state of Florida — maybe the rest of the country — will go to a no-plastic-bag policy,” he said. “I think we’re going that way. I agree with it. It’s environmentally friendly.”