Monday, February 1, 2010
DEP report backs off earlier bag ban recommendation
In a report released today, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection backed off an earlier draft recommendation to ban disposable shopping bags.
The Legislature in 2008 directed DEP to issue recommendations on regulating plastic and paper bags and banned local governments from adopting regulations.
DEP in October released a draft report that called for banning paper and plastic bags by 2015. But the department withdrew the draft report and removed it from its web site after a firestorm of opposition from conservative commentators and business groups.
The report issued today describes problems caused by plastic bags in the environment but merely outlines 12 options rather than proposing action. The options range in regulatory scope from launching an educational campaign or encouraging recycling in stores to implementing a fee on individual bags or banning them entirely.
A Florida Retail Federation representative praised DEP for highlighting the voluntary efforts of store chains but said the report still contained the per-bag fee recommendation that retailers oppose. "We don't think our customers should be taxed," said Samantha Hunter Padgett, the federation's deputy general counsel.
A Sierra Club state chapter representative said the report was thorough and she hopes the Legislature takes action on it. "I understand why they (DEP officials) didn't" make a stronger recommendation, said Cecilia Height of Winter Park, a member of Sierra Club's waste minimization committee. "But I applaud the amount of homework they put into the thing."
To view the report, go on the web to: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/retailbags/default.htm .
(Photo from DEP retail bags report. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)