Plastic Bag Ban

Energy & Environment
11:45 am
Tue March 11, 2014

AG's Office Poised to Weigh In on Plastic Bag Bans

State Rep. Dan Flynn has questioned Attorney General Greg Abbott about whether plastic bag bans like Austin's are in compliance with state’s health and safety laws.
Muliadi Soenaryo via Texas Tribune

As proponents continue to tout the benefits of banning plastic bags, the debate over whether Texas cities like Austin actually have the ability to enact such ordinances has made its way to the attorney general's office.

In a letter [PDF] seeking an opinion from Attorney General Greg Abbott, state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, questioned whether the city bans are in compliance with the state’s health and safety laws.

“At least nine cities in Texas have enacted bans on plastic bags and adopted fees on replacement bags in recent years,” the letter stated. “This appears to be in contravention of state law.”

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Environment
2:54 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Five Months Later, Lawsuit Against Austin's Bag Ban Still Pending

Although the bag ban has been in place for five months, there is still controversy surrounding the ordinance.
flickr.com/velkr0

Five months ago, Austin cashiers stopped asking, “Paper or plastic?”  And since then, Austin retailers and customers have adjusted to the city ordinance banning single-use paper and plastic bags.

However, the Texas Retailers Association argues banning plastic bags does more harm than good.

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Austin
1:54 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

How Many 'Austin Bashing' Bills Made It Out of the Lege? (Update)

With five Austin-centric bills this session alone, lawmakers are keeping a keen eye on the Austin City Council this legislative session.
flickr.com/atmtx

Update: The legislative session adjourns Monday – and Austin City Council members can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

All of the bills below disappeared into the legislative black hole – that is, they either never made it out of committee, or were never cleared for a vote.

Update (March 26): Here’s some additional bills that meet the Austin City Council’s definition of “Austin bashing” – legislation that would defang local policies.

The bill would ban cities from restricting the removal of trees if a developer or land owner deems the tree to be a fire hazard. Opponents worry the bill provides a work-around the city’s Heritage Tree Ordinance, and point to an additional piece of Workman legislation, HB 3087, as creating additional development loopholes for removing trees.

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Austin
4:21 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Nearly Three Months Later, Austin Still Adjusting to Plastic Bag Ban

A conversation is unfolding on Reddit about the pros and cons of Austin's plastic bag ban.
flickr.com/eclipse_etc

Though Austin’s ban on plastic bags took effect March 1, the conversation about how consumers are coping is still going strong.

Austinites have been sounding off on social media about the benefits and inconveniences of banning plastic bags. One particularly in-depth conflict has erupted on an Austin Reddit thread, asking “How has Austin’s bag ban affected you?”

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Austin
7:02 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Single-Use Bag Ban: One Month In

Austin's plastic bag ban limits retailers from providing single-use bags.
www.flickr.com/photos/timparkinson/

Just over a month into Austin’s disposable bag ban and city retailers are still in compliance with the ordinance.

Austin Resource Recovery Center administers the program and helps businesses comply with the law. Spokesperson Courtney Black said most businesses are complying, but there have been hold-outs.

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Politics
4:23 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Bag Ban Gets Pushback at Capitol

A state representative wants to bring plastic shopping bags back to Austin.
courtesy flickr.com/jonathanyoungblood

Five days into the Austin bag ban, a Texas lawmaker has filed a bill that would allow stores and shoppers to use whatever kind of bags they want.

First-term State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, calls his bill the Shopping Bag Freedom Act, which he says would stop what he calls “the overreach of big government.”

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Austin
10:52 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Yes, Austin Survived Its First Bag Ban Weekend (Update)

Austin is getting used to toting around reusable bags
Tyler Pratt for KUT News

Update: Austin appears to have survived its first weekend without single-use plastic bags. But, judging from Twitter, many are still getting used to the change. 

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austin
5:15 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Plastic Bag Ban Now in Effect

Say goodbye to the old-style plastic shopping bag.
courtesy flickr.com/adav

If you’re going to the grocery store or planning a quick stop at the convenience store today, you’ll need to bring your own bag. Most businesses within the Austin city limits will have to abide by a new rule that prohibits them from providing paper or plastic single-use bags to customers.

While it will take getting used to, the switch to reusables that goes into effect today is good news to some Austinites.

Longtime environmentalists celebrated the end of an era with a party at Cherrywood Coffeehouse in Austin this week. Featured artist Bill Oliver pushed for a bag ban for decades.

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Austin
2:30 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Texas Retailers Sue Austin Over Single-Use Bag Ban (Update)

Businesses cannot provide single-use plastic bags starting Friday.
flickr.com/velkr0

Update: Alexandria Bruton, Public Information Specialist with the City of Austin, has issued the following statement on the bags lawsuit: 

“Although the City has not yet been served with the lawsuit, we are familiar with the allegations and we are prepared to defend the ordinance. We stand behind the intent of the ordinance and do not believe it poses a hardship to affected businesses. The City is committed to working with businesses to help them comply with the ordinance and offers a number of resources to make this process as easy as possible.”  

Original post: Austin’s ban on single-use bags starts Friday. But a business group hasn’t stopped fighting against it.

The Texas Retailers Association has filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing the ban is against the state's Health and Safety Code. “We are bringing this suit regarding a state statue that we only fairly recently became aware of, which says no local government may pass an ordinance that prohibits or restricts baggage or containers like plastic bags," association president Ronnie Volkening said. 

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Austin
2:15 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Willie Nelson (or His Statue, At Least) Joins Austin Bag Campaign

Mayor Lee Leffingwell speaking at a press conference kicking off Austin's reusable bag awareness campaign.
Ann Choi, KUT News

Correction: The City of Austin disputes the expense of social media outreach in its reusable bag campaign. See the update below for more. 

Austin’s plastic bag ban goes into effect in eight days, and city officials are pulling in a celebrity endorsement for their campaign: Willie Nelson.

Or, his statue at least. 

"One bag just like the one Willie Nelson is holding literally can replace hundreds … six hundred or so … thin plastic bags that you see today,” city council member Mike Martinez said at a press conference in front of the bronze Nelson statue outside the ACL Live theater downtown.

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Austin
11:26 am
Mon February 18, 2013

What Austin Businesses Are Doing With Their Leftover Plastic Bags

South Congress business owners plan on creating a "SoCo" bag to comply with the reusable bag ordinance.
flickr.com/heatheronhertravels

In less than two weeks, Austin’s new reusable bag ordinance goes into effect.

Most Austin businesses, whether big or small, have until now bought plastic bags in bulk to save money. Big department stores and retailers can go through thousands of bags in a matter of days. But for smaller stores it can take months to use up inventory. So what will those businesses do with all those bags?

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Austin
7:45 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Businesses, Customers Get Ready for Austin's Bag Ordinance

So-called single-use plastic bags will no longer be available at most Austin stores beginning March 1.
courtesy flickr.com/adav

Austin’s Bag Ordinance goes into effect soon. Starting March 1, the majority of Austin businesses will stop providing single-use paper and plastic bags. That’s because the City of Austin has a goal of zero waste by the year 2040. This measure is among the first steps toward that goal. Businesses and customers alike are already making some adjustments.

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Austin
12:32 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Austin Businesses Prep for Bag Ban

Don't be turned inside out by Austin's single-use bag ordinance, going into effect March 1.
flickr.com/slice

Austin’s ban on some single-use bags goes into effect in just over three weeks. Today, area businesses will get training on the new bag rules.

The city is holding two training sessions for restaurants, grocery stores and retail stores: one this morning, and another one at 6 p.m.

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Austin
2:58 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

With Bag Ban Nearing, Keep Your Reusables Clean (and E. Coli Free)

A study from late last year says reusable bags can carry E. coli bacteria.
flickr.com/jennecy

Austin is a little more than a month away from its plastic bag ban, and some questions are still up in the air.

The Austin City Council approved the change last year, and the Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance stipulates that single-use bags for sacking groceries will soon be phased out – meaning Austinites must make use of reusable grocery bags. And as a precaution, shoppers should make sure their bags see more than the checkout aisle – try the laundry room.

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Austin
7:54 am
Wed November 14, 2012

With Bag Ban Looming, the City's Taking Local Business to School

The Bag Ban will start in March of 2013, but some items are still up in the air.
www.flickr.com/photos/arselectronica

Confused about Austin’s coming bag ban? You’re not alone.

Austin Resource Recovery, tasked with reaching the city’s zero waste by 2040, is hosting carryout bag training sessions for local businesses at the Austin City Hall this morning.

The training is designed prepare businesses for the plastic bag ban that takes effect in March 2013.

Originally, the ban barred the use of most single use paper and plastic bags, but late last week the City Council approved adding some exemptions. Now, restaurants will largely be exempt.

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Austin City Council
4:58 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Are New Changes to Austin's Bag Ban Too Lenient?

Some retailers thanked council today for exempting restaurants from Austin's bag ban; others felt it created a loophole.
courtesy flickr.com/jonathanyoungblood

Austin’s commitment to becoming a “zero waste” city by 2040 came into question today, as the City Council approved adding exemptions to the plastic bag ban that takes effect in March 2013.

Restaurants will now be exempt from the bag ban. Some citizens expressed that the exemption deviates from the goals of the original ban and provides too big of a loophole. (Whole Foods, Central Market and Wheatsville Co-op all serve hot dishes, for example.) 

Mayor Lee Leffingwell disagrees. "This is addressing in a meaningful way something that's a real problem," Leffingwell said, "and we've done that for other uses of plastic bags where we've seen that there's not a reasonable alternative – newspapers, dry cleaning for example. I think it's pretty obvious once you think about it – obviously we didn't think about it [then], but once you do think about carrying out a bag full of barbeque sauce in a paper bag, it's not a good idea."

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Austin
3:57 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Say Goodbye to Single-Use Shopping Bags in March 2013

Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Austin City Council voted at 2 o’clock this morning to ban plastic and paper shopping bags starting March 2013. 

City council was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal at 4 p.m. Thursday, but with a busy agenda, council didn’t get to the bag ban hearing until midnight.

Most speakers who stayed until midnight supported the bag ban, but some urged council not to vote at such a late hour.

“I think it’s really hard to make a decision at 12:41 a.m. and I’m going to tell you, I’m not in my best speaking self,” Jenn Studebaker told council. “Many of the people that came with me are not here. I think there’s a problem with that. You called a public hearing at midnight.”

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Austin
9:54 am
Thu March 1, 2012

City Council Preview: Bag Ban, Energy Rates, Weekend Rail and More – You Name It, It’s On the Agenda

It's an embarrassment of riches at City Hall today.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

We’re not sure what’s up with today’s Austin City Council meeting, filled with action on several long-simmering items. The council holds another meeting next week before heading into spring break, so it’s not like council has to cram everything into this meeting. But they pretty much did. Here's a rundown:

… And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Lights: Item 15 on the agenda inks an agreement with the RunTex Foundation to sponsor the Trail of Lights, that holiday event at Zilker Park that went dark due to budget cuts. As we wrote earlier this week, many see the proposal as a win-win, while others decry the privatization of a publicly-run event.

Taxi Drivers: Items 30 and 31 award new permits to Austin taxi franchises: 30 more for Lone Star Cab, and 15 more for Austin Cab. The item is up on second reading, meaning should it be successful today, a third and final vote is still required. And the meter’s still running: If and when these 45 are awarded, council is expected to offer an additional 35 new permits this summer.

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Austin
4:22 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Three Things to Watch For in the Bag Ban Vote

Plastic bags would be completely phased out by 2014 in a proposal before the City Council.
Photo by KUT News

The hotly debated question of whether to ban disposable bags comes to the Austin City Council tomorrow.

The council is posted to hear comments and take action on the proposal in a public hearing tomorrow evening. But considering the proposal has been fluttered around more wildly than a Wal-Mart bag in a strong breeze, it’s worth contemplating three aspects of the ban that have remained most controversial.

Here’s a brief primer, from KUT News:

Paper or Plastic? Or Both?: Although the proposal started out as a ban on single-use plastic bags, the ordinance has since expanded to include paper bags as well. This hasn’t escaped the attention of Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who questioned Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) director Bob Gedert at a previous meeting as to how the ban was broadened.

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Environment
1:04 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

What Can Corpus Christi Learn From Austin's Bag Ban Debate?

Plastic bags at a recycling center in Corpus Christi. The coastal town is discussing whether to charge for the disposable bags.
Photo courtesy .facebook.com/pages/Skip-The-Plastic/242542302446854

In its short history, Austin’s proposed disposable bag ban has already seen its share of controversy:  A series of stops and starts, recent revisions, and more.   

But Austin’s far from the only city considering such a measure. In fact, the Texas town of Corpus Christi is also considering a similar proposal.

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