Austin, Texas, to consider plastic bag ban

July 25, 2011 at 2:16 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, July 25 (UPI) -- The mayor of Austin, Texas, says he wants to prohibit retailers and grocery stores from offering plastic bags to customers at checkout counters.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell and two other City Council members said they would propose the ban Monday, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The plastic bags pollute waterways, harm wildlife, clog drainage systems and take up landfill space, Leffingwell said.

"I think there will be a cost benefit and a benefit to the environment of going down this road and coming up with a reasonable ordinance" to end their use, Leffingwell said.

Austin's Solid Waste Services Department said city residents use 263 million plastic bags a year and the city spends $850,000 annually on cleanup and disposal.

The City Council will vote Aug. 4 on the resolution from Leffingwell and Council Members Mike Martinez and Chris Riley.

If the proposal passes, the city would determine a scope for the ban and a timetable for gradually phasing it in.

"I'm sure many retailers have a lot of plastic bags on hand or [long-term] contracts with bag companies. We want to take those things into consideration," Leffingwell said. "Our goal will be to develop a reasonable ordinance that doesn't cause hardship. It would be a hardship to enact a ban immediately."

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