TALLAHASSEE – After gathering public input from numerous stakeholders and organizations, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today released its report on the need for new or different regulation of retail bags to Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Legislature. The Energy, Climate Change and Economic Security Act of 2008 directed the DEP to perform an analysis and submit a comprehensive report on the “necessity and efficacy” of retail bags regulation by February 1, 2010.
The report provides an assessment of the impacts associated with current use and disposal of retail bags as well as an analysis of potential options that seek to reduce single-use bags and encourage the use of reusable bags. Each option is presented with the potential pros and cons of implementation in an effort to provide policymakers the information needed to weigh and balance the effect of proposed actions on the environment, regulated community and the consumer.
“Currently in Florida, 88 percent of plastic bags and 63 percent of paper bags are thrown away rather than recycled which can harm our natural resources,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. “The report provides a host of options to improve those numbers and by working together, the retail industry and government, we can achieve that goal.”
Almost every retail establishment provides bag for its customers and studies show that Americans used almost 90 billion bags in 2003. The report explains how improperly discarded plastic bags can affect wildlife, marine life, landfill operation and flood control systems and explores the various approaches that other states and counties have taken to address this issue.
The report also identifies and recognizes the efforts many retailers are already implementing to promote the use of reusable bags. Efforts underway include:
- Nationwide, Walmart has committed to reducing plastic bag usage in its stores by 25 percent per store by 2013.
- Albertsons gives customers five cents back on their purchase for every non-plastic bag used.
- In November 2009, Target launched a program that gives customers a five-cent discount for every reusable bag used at checkout.
- In October 2009, CVS customers began to receive a one dollar bonus on their CVS cards for every four times a reusable bag is used.
- Publix, Food Lion, and Walmart all offer in-store or on-premises plastic bag recycling receptacles for customers.
The information and options in the report were developed based on broad research and contributions of stakeholders who participated in two public workshops. In addition, the dedicated retail bag Web site had nearly 6,000 visits – the site includes meeting summaries, draft notes and other details.
The next step in the process is for the Legislature to consider the options during the 2010 legislative session.
To view the report, visit www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/retailbags/.