Two bills currently before the General Assembly (House Bill 271 and Senate Bill 434) contain a provision to repeal the state ban on Outer Banks retailers using plastic bags. Retailers up and down the Outer Banks have signed support for repeal.

Under the ban, merchants can use paper bags as substitutes, but only if they satisfy these criteria:

  • the paper bag comprises at least 40 percent recycled paper and is clearly marked as such
  • the merchant offers a per-bag cash refund for customers who bring in their own bags instead of use the merchant’s

Not every merchant supports repeal, of course, because people are free thinkers and can hold differing opinions. (You have to state the obvious nowadays because there’s such a dedicated effort to make obvious things seem unusual or “unprecedented” or frightening, depending on the issue.)

Many would welcome a repeal, however — especially small retailers, because it would remove an unnecessary expense and administrative burden from them.

It’s hard to see what merchants against repeal have going for them. After all, lifting the ban on plastic bags is not the same as a mandate to use plastic bags. Restoring freedom and choice is not tyrannizing in the opposite direction.

If they dislike plastic bags, they wouldn’t have to use them.

But if they dislike extending freedom and choice to their fellow (competing) retailers, well, that’s a different problem.