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Austin Can’t Ban Plastic Bags, But It Can Ask Politely

September 5, 2018

Next City,

Rachel Dovey,

August 31, 2018-

In June, the Texas Supreme Court upheld a state preemption against city plastic bag bans. But while Austin officials have agreed to play along, they’re also testing out a simple new strategy to eliminate single-use plastic: Appealing to retailers’ better nature. The resolution taken up Thursday by the Austin City Council essentially just asks nicely that local stores keep honoring the (now-forbidden) bag ban.

“Plastic bags, as convenient as they may be, have a really detrimental effect” on the local environment, District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool, a sponsor of the resolution, recently told the Austin Monitor. The ban was in place for five years, according to the Monitor, and it was apparently fairly popular among local retailers. Not a single fine was ever levied against a business for violating the ordinance. And local retailers made money selling reusable bags — it’s unknown how much, in total, but according to the paper, similar bans in other cities have been quite lucrative.

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