Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Businesses brace for plastic bag ban

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TWC News: Businesses brace for plastic bag ban
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Plastic bags will soon be a thing of the past in Austin stores, and the city is spending big cash to make sure everyone in Austin is aware that change is on the way.

To facilitate this, close to $1 million is going towards public outreach and education.

"This ordinance has very few exemptions, and that means whether you do retail or you do food service, or you're a grocery store, it is going to apply to you,” Zero Waste Advisory Commission Chair Rick Cofer said.

A representative for the marketing firm Sherry Matthews spoke before the Zero Waste Advisory Commission Wednesday and gave a broad outline of how the money is being spent.

It’s a plan that includes television, radio and social media campaigns.

"Austin's ordinance is truly cutting edge,” Cofer said. “It is the first ordinance in a large city that puts a ban on single-use paper bags and single-use plastic bags."

However, not all are excited for the change. Ronnie Volkening with the Texas Retailers Association said the move could hurt businesses that will have to make more expensive reusable bags available.

"This was a missed opportunity to let Austin be a true leader in recycling, and a true leader in the environmental issue of how to responsible manage plastic bags and other film in a way that really promotes Texas jobs and promotes new products, and does not cause the inconvenience that is going to result from the plastic bag ban," he said.

Volkening fears with less plastic bags, plastic manufacturers that work with recycled products will be out of work.

"We would like to spend a little bit of that money educating people on reduce, reuse and recycle," he said.

The plastic bag ban ordinance officially starts on March 1, but some kinds of bags will still be allowed. They include bags for laundry, newspaper and waste.

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