On March 2, the Austin City Council unanimously approved a Single-Use Bag Ordinance, which will take effect in March 2013. The ordinance regulates of the types of bags that can be distributed by business establishments in Austin and encourages a shift to reusable bags.
“Passage of the single-use bag ordinance is a historic step toward Zero Waste,” said Bob Gedert, Austin Resource Recovery Director. “We’re shifting from a disposable society to adopt a reusable lifestyle that’s sustainable for the long-term. Reducing our dependence on limited-use bags not only helps us meet our Zero Waste goals, but it also reduces litter on our streets and in our waterways, keeping Austin clean and livable.”
The ordinance calls for the phase out of limited-use bags by March 1, 2013. The proposed ordinance does not eliminate retail check-out bags. Instead, the ordinance regulates the types of bags permissible for retail check-out, in replacement of limited-use bags.
Consumers will be able to choose the type of bag they would like to use at retail counters in Austin:
- Reusable bags that you bring from home at no cost.
- Plastic bag, 4 mil in thickness, with handles.
- Retailer sets the price of the bags.
- Paper bag made of recycled content, with
- handles. Retailer sets the price of the bags.
- Purchase another type of reusable bag from the retailer. Retailer sets the price of the bags.
Exemptions to the ordinance include bags used for dry cleaning, newspapers, pet waste, yard waste, prescription drugs, restaurant carry-out, bulk items (such as produce, nuts, grains, candy, or small hardware items), meat and fish, flowers and bakery goods. Also exempted are bags distributed by local food pantries.
The City plans to conduct extensive education and outreach to retailers and consumers, including bag distribution, a media campaign, signage, speaking to neighborhood groups, etc. For more information, visit austintexas.gov/bags.