AUSTIN (KXAN) - It's a hot topic that's been in the works for almost seven years. On Thursday, the Austin Resource Recovery hosted a free educational meeting for business owners around town.
The group wanted to shed light on the new rules with the Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance.
"It's going to cost us a little bit more money we'll feel it in the pocketbook but like I said we support it, it's the right thing to do," explained Craig Staley, one of the owners of Royal Blue Grocery. His business stopped using plastic bags a while ago. "It's been a shift for us as you can see there are single use paper bags there on the counter we use them to put our lunches out there are some things we'll have to change."
Starting March 1, businesses will have to meet certain guidelines on what they can provide to consumers:
- Plastic bags: 4 mil in thickness or greater with handles
- Paper bags: made of 40 percent recycled content with handles
- Cloth or another type of reusable bag made out of durable materials
The city said the whole initiative is to help reduce, reuse and recycle these materials to help cut landfill waste.
"The ban allows for us to provide plastic bags for any drippy items or for bulk items or for produce items so we won't ask that people take a handful of green beans and take it out of the store," explained Raquel Dadomo, brand manager for Wheatsville Co-Op. The store has already started weeding out its plastic bags.
There are some exemptions including pharmacies, restaurant bags, bags used by nonprofits and laundry bags. Grocery stores can still give plastic bags for flowers and meat products.
The Austin Resource Recovery started reaching out to more than 17,000 businesses last year that would be impacted by the ordinance which passed last spring.
The city said they want people to realize there will still be bags around. The thin single-use bags won't be on the offering table anymore. It's up to the businesses whether they charge a fee for the reusable bags.
When it comes to enforcement, the city of Austin said it will use education first to retailers who violate the policy. City leaders believe most mistakes will be because of a misunderstanding. Penalties will only happen as a, "last resort for businesses that do not make a good faith effort to follow the new rules."
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