CAMDEN, S.C. — Starting January 1, 2020, businesses in the city of Camden will no longer be allowed to provide single-use plastic carryout bags to customers, instead owners are required to switch to more environmentally-friendly means like paper.

The goal is to protect wildlife and waterways within the city as well as lessen the economic and environmental costs of managing waste, among other things.

The shift from plastic bags comes after a new ordinance was adopted by Camden city council in March, restricting any establishment or business operating within city limits from providing plastic carryout bags to customers.

Paper bag at Camden Grocery store
Paper grocery bag in cart at Camden grocery store.
Kayland Hagwood

“We really wanted to do this based on a lot of the environmental concerns with plastic bags,” Camden Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford said. “Not only bags but straws -- everything plastic.”

The bags being regulated include bags with handles made predominately of plastic and provided at check stands, cash registers, point of sale or other point of departure and for the purpose of transporting food or merchandise out of the retail establishment.

The ordinance does not apply to:

  • Laundry/dry-cleaning bags, door-hanger bags, newspaper bags, or packages of multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pet waste or yard waste.
  • Bags provided by pharmacist or veterinarians to contain prescription drugs or other medical necessities.
  • Bags used by a customer inside a business establishment.
  • Bags of any type that the customer brings to the store for their own use for carrying away from the store goods that are not placed in a bag provided by the store.

At the Piggly Wiggly in Camden, signs noting the change are posted on each register. The store staff have also already transitioned to using paper bags.

Camden plastic bag ban signage
Starting January 1, 2020, businesses in the city of Camden will no longer be allowed to provide single-use plastic carryout bags to customers.
Kayland Hagwood

“We’re already ahead of the game,” Jerry Jones, one of their managers, said. “At first we didn’t want to do it. We figured, you know, with the brown paper bags, you know, cost, but, looking at the environmental side, it would be better in the long run.”

It will be an adjustment for customers like Wanda Broughton, who was shopping at the Piggly Wiggly on Friday.

“I guess I’ll have to accept it,” she said. “Paper bags tear. I’d just rather the plastic.”

Willean Hall was also in the store. She feels positively about the change.

“I think it’s great, ‘cause you can handle it more better,” Hall said.

Enforcement of the ordinance will be on a complaint and inspection basis. Violations will be subject to warning, citation, and/or imposition of fines after implementation on January 1, 2020.