Starting Friday, disposable plastic and paper bags are banned at all retailers in the city. Exceptions include thicker bags with handles, laundry, newspapers, dry cleaners and waste bags.
The bag ban dates back to a city council resolution in 2007. In 2012 the ordinance passed unanimously. Austin Resource Recovery says it??s part of the goal to reduce 90 percent of the waste in the landfill by 2040. ??
“We do recognize it’s going to be an adjustment for people, but we do know in time that bringing a reusable bag is easy,”? said spokesperson Courtney Black.
Every year Austinites use 263 million plastic bags. Most of them end up in the landfill. Others clog drains, litter landscape and pose a hazard. ??Animals can mistake them as food and eat them,? said Black. In fact, 14 single-carry out bags have enough petroleum to drive a car one mile.
Keep Austin Beautiful, an environmental non-profit, says their volunteers most commonly pick up plastic bags. ??
“We did have a volunteer today do clean up along the shoal creek area and they informed us that 80 percent of what they found were plastic bags,?” said executive director Rodney Ahart.
Last year the organization had 400 clean up events. The non-profit hopes from now on they will start to see fewer bags and a more beautiful, less trashed Austin.
Here are some tips the city has for shoppers:?
- Keep your bags by the door, in your car, near your keys, or with store coupons. ?
- Put a sticker on your keys to remind you to bring bags into the store.?
- Add ??bring my bags? to the top of your shopping list.?
- Keep foldable bags in pockets, backpacks, or your purse. ?
- Place your reusable bags at the front of your order on the conveyer belt so the cashier knows you have them and can use them to pack your merchandise. ?
- Separate all bags so the cashier can easily grab each one as needed.?
- Open bags that fold up while you are waiting in line.?
- Remember to clean/wash your reusable bags frequently.
- Follow the care instructions on the tag of the bag. ?
- View the calendar of events to find locations where you can pick up a free reusable bag.
The city has spent $850,000 on a campaign to educate the public about the new rules. For more information go to bringitaustin.com.