Asheville considers timeline for single-use plastic ban

New to the conversation about single-use plastic bags in Asheville? Here’s all the broad strokes, plus the proposed timeline and plan from city officials.

Plastic bags - Asheville

Plastic bags may not be an option at local grocery stores a few years from now.

Photo by AVLtoday

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The movement to ban single-use plastic bags in Asheville has reached a critical mass — and now city officials are considering the best legislative path forward.

At its Sept. 13 meeting, Asheville’s Goverance Committee voted 3-0 to recommend a phased approach to reducing our city’s plastic use. The final decision rests with City Council and will be discussed publicly at its Tues., Sept. 27 meeting.

Why the ban?

Reducing single-use plastic supports City Council’s goal of a clean and healthy environment, and more specifically, its resolution to reduce waste by 50% by 2035.

Asheville’s not the only one shunning plastic...

If approved, Asheville would be the state’s first municipality to impose a plastic ban (minus the one passed + later repealed in the Outer Banks). But outside of NC, the idea isn’t new. Eight states have already banned single-use plastic bags and there are 400+ laws and ordinances across the country that ban or tax plastic bags.

What to expect over the next few years

Officials — specifically Mayor Esther Manheimer + council members Kim Roney and Gwen Wisler — have proposed a two-step approach:

  • Phase one, estimated to cost $20,000, would prohibit the use of plastic bags for curbside leaf litter collection. If passed, this measure could eliminate 120,000 single-use plastic bags from the landfill annually + could be voted on as soon as December, with the ordinance becoming mandatory as early as Sept. 1, 2023.
  • Phase two would create a new ordinance targeting disposable foodware products + plastic bag use at point-of-sale. Official policy will hinge on the results of a public engagement campaign and take a minimum of 12 months to develop, plus an additional 12 months between the adoption and enforcement of the ordinance, putting implementation around fall 2024.

Nothing’s in the bag quite yet, though...

The proposed policy will ultimately be shaped by public input. Have something to say? Sign up for public comment at the meeting on Thurs., Sept. 27 at 5 p.m. — or submit feedback through the engagement hub.

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