No more plastic bags in Nashville: That's what some Metro Nashville councilmembers hope will become a reality, and they're bringing forward a bill Tuesday night in hopes to make that happen.
Davette Blalock is co-sponsoring the bill along with Mike Freeman, and she believes Nashville needs to do something to solve the plastic bag issue.
"They're everywhere. They're in trees, they're in fences, they're in our grates," Blalock said, adding that they're also harmful to the environment. "We're an 'it' city, and we also need to be a conscious city about our earth as well."
Plastic bags have been banned in numerous cities and states across the country with the thought that paper and reusable bags are more environmentally friendly compared to plastic bags.
"We go home, we unload it, and throw it away," Blalock said of the general use for a plastic bag.
Others believe the issue needs to be looked at more closely.
"Anybody who uses them knows that there are 100 uses for them at home and outside the store," Rob Ikard, president of the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, said, adding that plastic bags are the preferred bag of shoppers. "When you go grocery shopping, you are offered a choice between paper or plastic or reusable, and I think plastics are very popular."
Ikard believes more research needs to be done on environmental impacts and costs, as well as the impacts it could have on businesses, especially those that operate both in Davidson County and in other counties.
"It just creates confusion. It creates compliance issues and costs that get passed on to the consumer," Ikard said.
Because of the issues with businesses having to change their practices based on which county they are operating in, Ikard believes any changes to the law should be made statewide, if at all.
On the other end, Blalock points to cities like Austin that have made a plastic bag ban work.
"They were not as excited about it in the beginning, but after a very short time, they were all used to it and wouldn't go back," Blalock explained.
Blalock said ultimately, it's up to the customers to make the right choice by reusing disposable bags and properly disposing of them or by purchasing reusable bags and opting to use them instead of ones provided at the stores.
“Reusable bags are very, very good for the environment. Good financially, and they’re good for you because you’ll be able to carry them in your home. They won’t spill, they won’t break, and they’re cheap," Blalock said.
The bill will be discussed at the Metro Council meeting on Tuesday night. If the bill were to pass, the law would not take effect until 2019.
Not abiding by the law would result in fines for businesses.
Some plastic bags would be exempt from the law, including bags for take-out food, for dry cleaning, for prescriptions, and other exemptions.