AUSTIN, TEXAS (March 2, 1:15 p.m. ET) — Austin has joined the growing number of cities prohibiting single-use carryout bags.
Austin City Council voted in the early hours of March 2 to ban single-use plastic and paper carryout bags at business establishments within the city limits. The law will go into effect March 1, 2013.
Instead, businesses can sell or provide reusable carryout bags, defined as a bag with a handle that is designed to be reused and is constructed of washable, durable fabrics, or heavy recyclable paper or plastic.
The ban does have some exceptions. Among other provisions, the ban does not apply to laundry dry cleaning bags, door-hangar bags, newspaper bags, or bags used for bulk food or other grocery items. Recyclable single-use bags can also be provided for restaurant carry-out items, prescription drugs, and beer, wine and spirits.
The city will launch a public education campaign to inform businesses and residents of the ban.
The ban is part of Austin's goal to achieve zero waste by 2040. The city has been discussing the issue of single-use bags since 2007, according to the ordinance.
Austin is the largest Texas city to ban plastic bags. Bags are also banned in Brownsville, Fort Stockton and South Padre Island.