The Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance (SUBO) took effect in March 2013. The ordinance regulated the types of bags that could be distributed by businesses in Austin and encouraged a shift to reusable bags.  After the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a similar bag ban in Laredo, Texas violated state law, Austin lost its ability to enforce the Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance.

Overview: Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance

The Austin City Council unanimously approved the Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance (SUBO) in 2012, one year before the ordinance took effect on March 1, 2013.   The ordinance was successful in reducing the amount of single-use plastic bags in Austin. According to a 2015 study, there was a 75% reduction in the number of plastic bags in the litter composition.  No fines were levied against Austin businesses, which were responsive to the ordinance or staff requests for compliance.

Ordinance Timeline

  • August 4, 2011: Austin City Council adopted a resolution to regulate single-use bags at businesses
  • March 2, 2012: Austin City Council unanimously approved the Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance
  • March 1, 2013: Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance became effective
  • June 22, 2018: Texas Supreme Court ruled that the city of Laredo could not ban disposable plastic bags, and that bag bans violate state law.
  • July 11, 2018: The City of Austin announces it can no longer enforce the Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance

Austin’s Commitment to Single-Use Plastic Bag Reduction

Austin Resource Recovery will continue dialogue with retailers, invite their feedback, and gather data on the barriers and other factors driving business decisions on reintroducing single-use plastic bags. Additionally, ARR will continue to provide education and outreach on the benefits of re-usable bags and how they can support our community’s Zero Waste goal.

Additional Documents

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