Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 3:23 pm
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed SB 270, the first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags in the U.S.
"This bill is a step in the right direction — it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself," Brown said. "We're the first to ban these bags, and we won't be the last."
There are strong opinions in the debate over a proposed plastic bag ban. The idea has bounced back and forth between committee meetings so far, and according to staff members it will go before the full San Antonio City Council this month.
In the meantime, the 10 council members and mayor have received plenty of responses from the public. Their offices report they've received about 1,400 emails and letters, and an overwhelming number have been favorable toward a ban. Only five, they say, were opposed.
San Antonio city leaders are in the middle of discussions on a possible ban on single-use plastic bags. The topic comes as cities across the country are taking drastic steps to reduce the use of plastic bags to cut down on litter.
Most people would agree they're bad for the environment, but opponents say a proposed bag ban could unfairly target the poor because reusable bags cost money, and they're a burden to carry around for those without a vehicle.
City leaders are in the middle of talks about a possible ban on single-use plastic bags in the Alamo City. While the debate lingers on, city staff members have come up with several options they will present a council committee with in April.
An environmental group says a trade association fighting plastic bag bans in Texas is attempting to use legal and judicial activism to prevail where their previous lawsuit regarding the issue failed.
The Texas Campaign for the Environment saidno harm has come to businesses in cities with bag bans.
Late last week, state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, filed for an opinion from Texas attorney general's office on behalf of the Texas Retailer’s Association regarding the legality of city’s bans on plastic shopping bags.
Just over a year ago, city leaders in Austin instituted a city-wide ban on single-use plastic bags. As San Antonio leaders decide on the consequences of a similar ban, shoppers in Austin say it's only a matter of getting used to.
They carry on as if nothing ever changed. "It just took a little time to get used to it, but it's definitely worth it," said Bethany Martin as she carried her groceries out of an Austin-area Whole Foods on Monday.
State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, says several members of the Texas Retailers Association have requested he find about the legality of some Texas city’s efforts to ban the use of plastic shopping bags.
Flynn is hoping to discover whether plastic bag bans violate sections of the state’s Health and Safety Code:
"Well it’s a health issue -- they want you to use these cloth bags that get so nasty and dirty," Flynn said. "Why in the world would government get involved in something like this? And then, of course, the retailers are getting beat up over this."
The city's governance committee will soon be considering a ban on single-use plastic bags -- bags you would use at the grocery store, take-out bags and bags at several retailers.
According to District 7 Councilman Cris Medina, the city spends $1.3 million cleaning up discarded bags. The threat to the environment from the bags, which you currently cannot recycle anywhere but at retail-based bins, was the main concern of city leaders and one community advisory board.
This week the San Antonio City Council Governance Committee was to discuss a potential single-use plastic bag ban but the item was pulled from the agenda.
In an effort to get community input on a possible plastic bag ban in San Antonio, District 7 Councilman Cris Medina last week convened a group of people from the retail industry, the city and others to talk about a ban on single-use plastic bags.