The border town of Brownsville, Texas, could soon become the second U.S. city to charge shoppers for single-use disposable plastic bags at checkout. If enacted, the proposed charge of $1 per bag would go into effect Jan. 5 at grocery and convenience stores in the town of 177,000, and probably end the use of disposable plastic bags at those stores.
It is like a de facto ban, said Shari Jackson, director of the Progressive Bag Affiliates, which is part of the American Chemistry Council in Washington. Taxes and bans are not the way to go on this, Jackson said in a phone interview Sept. 14. We are continuing to try to explain to the city commissioners that recycling is a better option.
Privately owned Duro Bag Manufacturing Co., headquartered in Florence, Ky., has a paper bag manufacturing plant in Brownsville that employs 120 and makes 9 million paper bags daily.
But there are a larger number of workers more than 2,600 employed at plastic bag manufacturing plants in Texas, according to data that PBA has on its website, www.plasticbagfacts.org.
This approach of a $1 charge will have an impact on plastic bag manufacturers, Jackson said.
The next public meeting on the Brownsville proposal is scheduled for Sept. 21, and if it moves forward, the $1 charge on plastic bags could be adopted Oct. 5.
Earlier this year, the Brownsville City Commission had adopted a voluntary ban on plastic bags beginning Jan. 5, 2011. But the commission proposed amending the law last week to add the $1 charge. It would be the third-largest U.S. city after San Francisco and Washington to enact a tax or ban on plastic bags.
This is still in the proposal stage, said Jackson. We have communicated with them about the benefits of recycling plastic bags. We don't have a sense that they have made up their mind.
Washington has had a 5-cent tax on plastic and paper bags at checkout since Jan. 1. Eleven communities in the U.S. have passed plastic bans, including the counties of Kauai and Maui in Hawaii, whose bag bans go into effect Jan. 1.
In addition to San Francisco and the Hawaii counties, Westport, Conn.; Edmonds, Wash.; the Alaska towns of Hooper Bay and Bethel; and the cities of Fairfax, Malibu and Palo Alto in California have plastic bag bans. The Outer Banks, N.C., counties of Hyde, Dare and Currituck also have a ban on plastic bags, enacted as a single measure for those three counties.