AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas attorney general sent letters to 11 cities Monday warning that continued use of plastic bag ban ordinances were illegal following a Texas Supreme Court ruling.
“Municipalities ignoring this law are unlawfully passing their duty to manage solid waste on to their residents and retailers in violation of settled Texas law,” Attorney General Paxton said. “A dislike of state law is no justification for a municipality to violate it.”
The letters were sent to city leaders of Austin, Sunset Valley, Port Aransas, Laguna Vista, Fort Stockton, Eagle Pass, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Kermit, Freer and South Padre Island.
The city of Austin responded to the court ruling with a statement that said in part:
“The City Law Department is reviewing the recent Texas Supreme Court decision to determine how it might impact Austin’s regulations… While we do not keep specific metrics related to single-use plastic bags in our waterways, we have heard anecdotally from both staff and the community that they have observed a decrease in litter since the ordinance went into effect.”
Austin implemented its bag ban in 2013. A 2015 city-commissioned study found the number of thin plastic bags decreased since the ban took effect; however, the city found more reusable paper and thicker plastic bags in landfills.
Representatives with the city of Sunset Valley say they are disappointed by the Supreme Court decision, but will follow the law.
“It’s unfortunate, but I understand that courts – that happens sometimes. They issue a broad opinion that doesn’t really apply itself well to everyone,” said Mayor Rose Cardona. “We were just a case where we implemented a rule and it helped. It helped and it didn’t make the commercial district or shoppers complain.”
Mayor Cardona says she is already thinking of ways to maintain what progress the city made through their bag ban.
“Fortunately in a small community, we can figure out a way to incentivize the commercial district to continue the good work that we’ve had,” she said. “We’ve done something good in my city. I’ll potentially have to figure out a way now to incentivize people to continue the good work.”
Bag ban letters to Texas cities on Scribd