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Texas Retailers Association Sues to Block Austin Bag Ban

Article-Texas Retailers Association Sues to Block Austin Bag Ban

The Texas Retailers Association (TRA) have filed a suit asking that Austin’s plastic bag ban, set to take effect March 1, be ruled invalid.

The Austin-based association filed a petition in Travis County District Court arguing that the city’s bag restriction violates the Texas Health and Safety Code. The state code prohibits local municipalities from restricting consumer packaging, the association said in a news release.

The code states, “A local government or other political subdivision may not adopt an ordinance, rule, or regulation to: prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.”

“Texas retailers are committed to compliance with all applicable laws. However, in this case a legitimate question exists as to the validity of the ordinance,” said Ronnie Volkening, president and CEO of the TRA. “We need the court to provide clarity so that retailers have clear direction on what bags they can provide for their customers.”

The pending law restricts plastic and paper retail carryout bags. It allows for three options: paper or plastic bags of thicker construction with handles, or reusable linen or woven bags, said Bob Gedert, director of Austin Resource Recovery, in an interview last year when the law was passed. Because of the replacement options, the city has characterized it as a bag regulation, not ban.

Rather than a bag restriction, the TRA has advocated a comprehensive recycling program, including consumer education, to address the issue.

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