AUSTIN, TEXAS — Will banning plastic shopping bags make the roadways and oceans cleaner? Or will it merely annoy shoppers and harm factories that use recycled bags to make things like fence posts? Those were among the questions being fiercely debated at a public meeting here in Texas’s capital city last week, as Austin considers whether to impose a wide-ranging ban on plastic bags.
Ronnie Volkening, president of the Texas Retailers Association, called the proposal for a ban draconian and warned that it would “cause chaos and confusion with our customers.”
But Robin Schneider, executive director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment, countered that bags had a habit of flying everywhere and getting eaten by animals, so banning them would help the environment.
Exchanges like this are increasingly common around the world, as communities wrestle with questions about regulating shopping bags distributed at checkout counters. Already countries including China and Ireland and cities including Mexico City have adopted bans or taxes in some form on plastic bags. On Tuesday, officials in San Francisco voted to expand a ban already in place on plastic bags and to require shoppers to pay 10 cents each for paper bags. (continued)