Plastic bag changes set to take effect March 1

Plastic bag changes set to take effect March 1

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Pretty soon, seeing those familiar disposable plastic bags at the end of the grocery store cash register will be a thing of the past here in Austin.

Last year, the city decided to pass an ordinance that regulates the type of bags stores can offer in an effort to be a little more green.

And March 1 is the big day.

"For shoppers, they will have reusable bag options at the store. And businesses can choose what types of bags they would like to provide their customers with as long as they meet the regulations of the ordinance," said Lauren Hammond with the city of Austin.

Basically, customers will be able to choose from paper bags with handles that are made from at least 40 percent recyclable material, plastic bags that are much thicker than the ones you typically see, or cloth bags that you can use over and over.

The city of Austin doesn't want you to panic though. There are some exceptions to the rule.

"For example, produce bags used for fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, restaurants that need to provide single use bags for sauces and soups...pharmacies can still use the normal paper bags that they had been using," Hammond said.

At Wheatsfield Food Co-Op, brand manager Raquel Dadamo says they've already got an incentive program going that encourages reusing bags.

"We gave away 6,512 bag credits for a nickel each which equals about $320," Dadamo said.

Shopper Mike Woolf has already found his alternative, a bag made of recycled coffee sacks.

"So, the idea, which I think is great, is that here's a 100 percent recycled material being made to create grocery bags," Woolf said.

In the meantime, the city has signed an $850,000 contract with a marketing group to start getting the word out to businesses and shoppers.

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