AUSTIN -- A group of protesters showed up to the State Capitol Wednesday to fight a new bill that would have a direct impact on Austin.
The group visited the office of State Representative Drew Springer armed with reusable bags. The environmental advocates are fighting a bill Springer authored. House Bill 2416 would prevent local governments from enacting bans on single-use bags. It's been dubbed the 'Shopping Bag Freedom Act.'
Springer calls the ban on single-use bags "government overreach." In a statement, he argued: “If a municipality can ban bags, what is to say they won’t mandate how large a soda can be, or how much salt one can put on their food?”
However, supporters of such bans say the ordinances save money and the environment.
“Single use bags cost local tax payers about a dollar per person per year in any given city. So here in the City of Austin, [it costs] over $800,000 a year. Statewide [it costs] $25 million a year. This is in litter control. This is in landfill cleanup costs. We also have damaged recycling facilities, damage to storm water systems, damage to waste water systems,” explained Andrew Dobbs, Program Director with Texas Campaign for the Environment. “In terms of our infrastructure, in terms of our wildlife, in terms of our environment, generally the best way to prevent these harms is to get these bags out of stores.”
A ban on single-use paper and plastic bags went into effect at the beginning of the month in Austin. Dobbs says since then he's noticed fewer bags littering the community.
However Austin isn't the only city with such a ban. Dobbs says Brownsville, South Padre Island, Laguna Vista, Fort Stockton and Sunset Valley have also passed ordinances that either regulate or ban single-use bags.