AUSTIN -- New rules are being laid out for Austin's so-called bag ban. Austin City Council members are expected to approve the changes on Thursday. Austin Resource Recovery developed the new set of rules.
“They clarify the ordinance. They define the types of bags that can be distributed,” said Director of ARR Bob Gedert.
The ban that the city council approved initially back in March covers plastic and paper single-use bags. There are a few exceptions including bags used for newspapers and dry cleaning.
Since March, ARR has made changes to the impact on restaurants and carry-out service. Most recently restaurants were told they would have to use paper bags but the restaurant industry fought for more options.
“You know in our industry you have hot liquids, you've got, you know, foods that can get spilled in your car and paper is just not going to do it. So in that instance, when that does come up, when you have hot foods or salads and dressings and that sort of thing, we really feel like that the single-use bag is the best thing to do to prevent anything from happening,” said Skeeter Miller, owner of County Line BBQ and president of the Greater Austin Restaurant Association.
The ARR agreed and put an exemption for restaurants back in the ordinance rules.
Also outlined is a detailed description of what types of bags are allowed throughout the city. There are three different kinds.
“All of them have handles. There’s a paper bag that’s made out of recycled content that’s thicker than normal so that you can get 100 reuses out of it,” said Gedert. “A plastic bag that’s thicker, with handles and you can get 100 reuses out of it. Or (you can use) a cloth or linen or woven type of bag.”
The ban is scheduled to take effect March 1, 2013. The ARR is asking Austin City Council to allow some businesses extra time to adapt to the changes.
“They can petition for an extra six months but they still have to honor the ordinance,” Gedert said.
That includes signage and education requirements for businesses. ARR is offering retailer and business training for the ordinance. The first session on Nov. 14 is available to a broad range of businesses.