Austin Proposing Retailer Plastic Bag Ban (with video)

Austin, Texas, is proposing a plastic bag ban for area retailers that would begin in 2016 and require a 25-cent fee per bag for the previous three years.

The proposed draft ordinance by city council calls for most business establishments beginning Jan. 1, 2013 to provide single-use carryout bags only upon request and with a charge of 25 cents per bag to the customer. The city said it will use the funds to promote the use of reusable carryout bags, according to the draft ordinance. The full ban would begin Jan. 1, 2016.

Some types of bags would be exempted, such as those provided by liquor stores, dry cleaners and restaurants. The city has been promoting the use of reusable bags voluntarily since 2008.

The Texas Retailers Association criticized the proposal. “Austin will reportedly have the most expensive and regressive bag tax in the entire country,” said Ronnie Volkening, the group’s president and CEO. “Families and lower income citizens will be disproportionately affected by rising costs.

 “Perhaps the most troubling feature of the current draft ordinance is that it does not address recycling at all,” Volkening continued in a news release from the group. “The impact of the draft ordinance on current voluntary recycling programs for plastic bags can only be negative. The social utility of plastic bags is undeniable. Their continuing presence in the marketplace is likewise undeniable. Any ordinance that does not promote a comprehensive recycling effort is woefully short-sighted.”

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