Austin Texas Weighs In On Plastic Bag Ban

Austin, Texas, has taken up the paper vs. plastic debate and is considering a plastic bag ban. Environmentalists believe plastic bags cost taxpayers while manufacturers contend that it is economical for retailers, handy for customers, and a necessary industry for economic growth. The Solid Waste Services Department has stepped in to resolve the conflict with a 90 day study. Started in June, it will run until September, and it will examine the cost of plastic bags from its point of origin at the manufacturing plant to its point of disposal in the landfill.

There are hidden costs associated with plastic bags. The Austin City Council says they often get entangled in the recycling machine. In San Francisco, according to Save the Bay, an environmental group, where the Brownley bag ban has aroused heated discussion, the San Francisco Bay is clogged with a million plastic bags each year. The Austin City Council will weigh the findings to determine if tax dollars have been wisely spent and will then decide whether or not the costs exceed the convenience.

While the controversy is new to Austin, it is not a new issue in the United States. In San Francisco, for example, a similar feasibility study showed each plastic bag cost the consumer 17 cents. A city that has already made changes is Washington D.C. In this city, grocery stores took action by charging shoppers a 5 cent fee for each plastic bag they used to take home their groceries. In the first month of this new measure, plastic bag usage dropped by 84 %. Meanwhile, Portland, Oregon, is considering it, as is the whole state of California. The debate is spreading across the country, with city councils throughout the United States pushing for reusable bags and plastic bag manufacturers resisting this suggestion. In the meanwhile, its business as usual in Austin, with retailers continuing to use plastic bags until a decision is made on what to do about them.

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Tags: Austin City Council, Austin Texas, Brownley Bag Ban, California, eco-friendly bags, feasibility study, Planet Earth Bag, Plastic Bags, Reusable Bags, San Francisco Bay, Save the Bay, Solid Waste Services Department

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