Single-use bag ban goes into effect March 1 - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Single-use bag ban goes into effect March 1

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The days are numbered for single-use bags in Austin.  On March 1, the city will begin enforcing an ordinance banning those bags at retailers.

"What that means for shoppers specifically is it will limit the kinds of bags that are available at check out," said Courtney Black.

What retailers will be allowed to offer are:

  • plastic bags 4mm in thickness
  • paper bags with handles & made of 40 percent recycled content
  • other reusable bags

"Instead of those flimsy plastic bags you see that clog our creeks and waterways, that end up stuck in trees, those will be gone," said Black.

The ordinance was passed with the environment in mind cutting down on single-use bags is part of the city's zero waste plan.

"The city has a zero waste goal to divert 90 percent of waste materials from landfill by 2040," said Black.

There are some exceptions to the ban.

"You will still see produce bags and bags you can put your meat in. 10:16:54 pharmacies will still provide small paper bags given with prescriptions. Also some restaurants are exempt and they can use the plastic bags for take away food," said Black.

The city began working on strategies to ban single-use bags in 2007 before the ordinance was finally passed in 2012. Since then, the city has been trying to get the word out, spending $850,000 on an education and outreach campaign.

"That includes marketing and advertising to let shoppers know about business and know what to expect. We've also done a number of bag giveaways," said

City officials hope that was money well spent in order to save dollars and the environment in the long run.

"We understand it will be an adjustment. Hopefully shoppers can adapt, businesses can adapt," said Black.

So, beginning March 1, don't forget to bring your reusable bags to grocery, convenience and drug stores. Retailers have the option to charge for reusable bags, give them away, or not give any at all. Businesses that don't comply with the ban can be fined, but the city wants to work with them to be in compliance.

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