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Retailers sue over Austin bag ban

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As retailers in Austin prepare to do away with single-use bags, the city's upcoming ordinance banning those bags is being called into question.

"This has thrown a great deal of uncertainty in to what the state of the law is and that's the purpose of this lawsuit," said Ronnie Volkening, president of the Texas Retailers Association.

The group has filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin claiming that the single-use bag ordinance, which goes into effect March 1, violates the Texas Health and Safety Code.

"The language seems to be squarely on point: local governments may not enact ordinances that restrict or prohibit use of containers or packages such as plastic bags."

The TRA has followed the city's plans to create this ordinance from the beginning. The group would rather see the city push to recycle the bags than ban them.

"Our position has been: voluntary market-based solutions would work better, be more comprehensive and be less regressive with their impact on low income families in Austin"

The purpose of the bag ban is to reduce waste. Brushy areas around Austin were littered with those thin plastic bags after Monday's strong winds, but the Texas Retailers Association questions if banning the bags is what's best for the environment.

"Our view is that plastic bags need to be managed like any other post-consumer product. There's ways to manage this issue in an environmentally sensible way."

Tuesday afternoon, the Austin Resource Recovery, the city's recycling and waste services department, released a statement saying the city would continue to defend the ordinance and work with retailers to be in compliance.

LINK: Texas Retailers Association

LINK: Austin bag ban information

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