Austin Passes Bag Ban

Austin, Texas has become the latest large American city to adopt a ban on certain types of plastic and paper bags—a ban that is one of the broadest of its kind in the country.

After years of back-and-forth between the two sides of the argument, Austin’s City Council unanimously passed the ordinance on March 1st and it will become effective in March 2013.

To comply with the ordinance, customers will be allowed to use:

  • Reusable bags from home or purchasable plastic bags that are at least four millimeters thick with handles.
  • Paper bags made of recycled material with handles.
  • Other reusable bags at prices set by retailers.

While broad, the bag ban will not entirely do away with retail checkout counter bags.  Plastic bags used at dry cleaners, paper bags used in restaurants and disposable bags provided by local food bank will not be effected by the ban.

Additionally, the council made some key changes to the proposal before passing it. These include the elimination of a disposable bag transaction fee as well as doing away with a one-year transitional period.

The ban also comes with a $1.5-2 million educational campaign to promote knowledge on the topic and raise awareness on what Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell sees as something that is “harmful to our environment and to our economy.”

According to Leffingwell, Austin residents use about 263 million plastic bags every year, forcing the city to pay more than $800,000 per year in pollution and litter management costs.

“The bags litter our rivers and streams. They are harmful to our wildlife—and because most of them aren’t biodegradable—they are around forever,” said Leffingwell.

This isn’t the first time Austin has tried to pass legislature to limit the use of single-use bags. In 2007, City Council ordered an evaluation on strategies for limiting the use of non-compostable plastic bags and promoting reusable ones, and in 2008, a voluntary initiative was instituted to cut the number of plastic bags that flowed into the waste stream by 50 percent, but those efforts struggled to take off.

Several members of the public weighed in at stakeholder meetings and public hearings between August 2011 and March 1 when a vote was taken, and the ban was ultimately passed.

Here’s an infograph outlying what exactly this ban means for you:

For more information on the ban and a link to actual legislation, visit the City of Austin, Texas’s website.

If you have any questions about this ban or any other bag legislation around the country, feel free to call us at 1-888-429-5673. Our bag specialists are qualified to explain how this ban affects you, and help you find bags that are in compliance with your local legislation.

Source: Mitzie Stelte, Impact News, Central Austin

For the complete story, visit http://impactnews.com/articles/city-officials-approve-2013-bag-ban/