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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Say goodbye to plastic bags at retailers in Coral Gables.

City commissioners have decided unanimously to officially ban them, making Coral Gables the first city in Florida to do so.

“You know how many bags I do per day? You know how many take their food to go. ‘Oh, I didn’t finish my food, I need to wrap it to go,” Hala Alawia said.

Alawia owns the Pita N Shawarma Mediterranean restaurant on Miracle Mile.

The thousands of plastic bags she uses can cost her hundreds in fines if she doesn’t replace them.

“The fines are a warning the first time, the first violation, and then $50 and a maximum of $500 per day,” said Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli.

Alawia is worried she’ll have to increase her prices to replace her bags to paper.

“The customer has a budget that he has to follow. If it’s not you, he will go eat somewhere else,” Alawia said.

The city banned Styrofoam last year. Alawia had to change out her styrofoam containers to plastic ones.  That move also cost her.

“I’m paying triple what I use to pay. Triple!” she said. “Now, I’m paying one hundred pieces for only this… $45 for a hundred pieces.”

But the mayor says the cost is worth the positive effect it will have on the environment.

“We want Coral Gables to be a responsible city in terms of the environment,” Valdes-Fauli said.

As estimated in the documentary, “Silent Killers by Global Ban Now,” humans manufacture 500 billion plastic bags globally every year, but only one percent is actually recycled. Millions end up in the ocean and our water supply.

There are exceptions to the ban: dry cleaners, newspapers, pharmacies and veterinarians, plus bigger bags that hold garbage or yard waste, and those designed for dog waste.

But Alawia isn’t sure she can keep up with the city’s environmental requirements and keep her business afloat at the same time.

“If the expenses keep going up like this, I think I have to move my place to someplace else,” she said.


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