Feb 10 -Texas City Stalled After Moving Towards Bag Ban

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Pecos, TX initially approved a plastic bag ban last month and was scheduled to formally adopt the ordinance yesterday. However, the approval has been delayed while other options, such as a litter outreach campaign, are also being weighed.

According to the Associated Press, Mayor Venetta Seals attributed the city’s decision in moving towards a ban to the Fort Stockton ordinance that went into effect last year.

The Pecos bag ban would still allow the distribution of compostable and reusable bags. A voluntary ban was intended to start next month, with a mandatory implementation by September 2, 2012. Now this must wait while the city deliberates on other steps.

CAW warns against outreach campaigns encouraging recycling and discouraging littering of plastic bags because they overlook the real issue: the larger problem is with the product, not human behavior. Plastic bags are inherently airborne and difficult to properly dispose of or recycle.

Recycling is not cost-effective, as shown in San Jose, where they used to spend $1 million each year to fix recycling machines jammed by plastic bags, and an additional $180 per ton to dispose of the unsold bales of plastic bags. Even when plastic bags do end up in landfills, windblown bags costs hundreds of thousands of dollars for the landfill facilities to manage. For the last 18 years, the Redwood Landfill in Novato has had one full time staff person solely for the purpose of collecting loose plastic bags.

We hope that the City of Pecos will soon recognize the true costs of plastic bags and move forward with final approval of a ban.

In Texas, the cities of Fort Stockton, Brownsville, and South Padre Island have already passed bag ordinances. Several other Texas cities, including Austin, are also considering similar ordinances. See the list of ordinances passed in Texas and the rest of the country here.

Brownsville was the first city in Texas to pass a bag ordinance in 2009. Listen to the first episode of The Good Stuff podcast to find out more about the Brownsville ordinance.

Take action here on other plastic bag ordinances.