Banning single-use plastic bags is one of the most effective ways to reduce plastic waste in the community. People from Austin, Texas knew the importance of keeping the world clean. In fact, Austin is one of the many cities in the US who implemented the usage of single-use non-composite plastic bags. The movement started in 2007, Austin City Council decided to evaluate the current state of plastic bag usage as well as come up with strategies that can minimize the usage of single-use non-composite plastic bags.
During 2008, the Austin City Council finally implemented a resolution where residents of the city are encouraged to avoid using a single-use plastic bag. This is also an effort to reduce the plastic wastes that go into the waste stream of the city up to 50% in the next 18 months. Although there is only a reduction of 20%, not even half of the goal, it was not an effort wasted because it lit up the interest of the Austin residents.
According to medicaldailytimes, by 2010, the Austin City Council was tasked in doing a study about the impact of processing plastic wastes in the waste stream to the city’s taxpayers. The study of the result was out in 2011 and it brought shocking news to everyone. Approximately $850,000 of the taxpayers’ money is being used to process the plastic wastes, with another costly impact not even accounted for. In order to reduce this cost, the Austin City Council made a resolution to phase out single-use non-compostable plastic bags in retail establishments in 2012. Plastic Bags are replaced with washable cloth bags. One of the figures who helped in passing this ordinance is Rick Cofer, a criminal defense lawyer in Austin.
This celebration would be short-lived as anti-plastic bag ban movements started to appear in 2014. It was Attorney General Greg Abbott’s claim that started the movement. He claimed that plastic bag bans are legal if they do not aim for solid waste management. This movement successfully appealed the ban lift in Laredo, Texas last 2015 and totally abolished in 2016. The argument used is that plastic bags are not “garbage” an, therefore, is not covered by the waste management law, in which Rick Cofer Law and his colleagues disagreed. Attorney General Ken Paxton even claimed that these bans are illegal.
The decision of the Texas Supreme Court overrules city ordinance, which means that the ban will also be lifted in Austin, which happened last year. Rick Cofer said in an interview that big retailers will continue offering washable bags because it is also one of their sources of income. In addition to this, he believes that people shop their environmental values, so it is likely that they will still use washable bags. The Austin City Council also passed a resolution that while they cannot enforce plastic bag ban, they cannot also enforce penalties for businesses that will not comply with the ban lift, which supports Rick Cofer’s claims.
Posted in: Green Energy