Plastic bag bans in Texas seem to be on the rise and working

Associated Press - AUSTIN (AP) - Austin has bans on plastic bags and one of the state's strictest tree removal ordinances.

Denton became the first in the state to outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Although Gov. Greg Abbott has said derisively that such ordinances show that Texas is "being Californianized," reports state that environment-minded ordinances seem to be working in Austin and on the rise in the Lone Star State.

At least a dozen Texas cities have bag bans.

Dallas last month started charging an "environmental fee" of a nickel per single-use paper or plastic bag at groceries, convenience stores and big-box retailers. Retailers can still provide free multi-use bags.

The ordinance is designed to reduce litter.

Darren Hodges, a City Council member in the West Texas city of Fort Stockton, said the bag ban has vastly reduced the "millions of plastic eyesores" caught on cactus, mesquite and barbed-wire fence.

H-E-B spokeswoman Leslie Sweet says that less than 1 percent of Austin customers buy emergency bags when checking out.

No retailers have been given penalties or fines, said Emlea Chanslor, a spokeswoman for Austin Resource Recovery.

As Texas Attorney General, Abbott said in August that a state law prohibits local governments from prohibiting, restricting or charging a fee for solid waste management purposes, for "the use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law."

The opinion was non-binding but reflected the attorney general's view of who would win in a lawsuit on the issue.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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