While certain cities, including Austin and Brownsville in Texas, have instituted bans on plastic shopping bags, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Texas State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, would like to put a stop to such bans.
The Shopping Bag Freedom Act
State Rep. Springer has introduced House Bill 2416, "The Shopping Bag Freedom Act," that states that a business that sells to a customer may provide to that customer a bag of any material at the point of sale, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Springer makes three arguments for his bill. First, he believes that bans on plastic bags constitute and unwarranted intrusion of the nanny state and would be a slippery slope, leading to other legislation, such as restrictions on the size of soda or mandates on what sort of food can be sold. Second, he argues that forcing people to buy reusable cloth bags is a burden on the poor. Finally he points out that unless cloth bags are washed regularly they can carry food borne illnesses.
Austin and Brownsville have passed bag ban laws
The Austin Bag Ban site notes that the capital of Texas is the first in the Lone Star State to have enacted a ban on not only plastic bags, but paper as well. Shoppers in Austin are required to use reusable bags made of cloth or some durable form of plastic or paper with handles. The ban went into effect at the beginning of March, 2013. Brownville banned plastic bags even before Austin did, an ordinance that got mixed reviews according to the New York Times. The New York Times also notes that a number of smaller Texas communities, such as South Padre Island and Fort Stockton have also instituted bans.
Arguments in favor of plastic bag bans
HowStuffWorks reports that the reason that some communities are banning plastic bags stem from environmental concerns. Petroleum is used to manufacture plastic, Plastic is said to be hard to recycle and thus is harmful to the environment when they are thrown away.
Arguments against plastic bag bans
A number of arguments have been raised against banning plastic bags. An article in Reason raises the same question Rep. Springer does about cloth bags as a carrier of disease. Reason cites a study that shows a spike in emergency room visits and deaths due to food-borne illnesses in communities that have instituted plastic bag bans. The Daily Caller suggests that plastic bag bans have caused a spike in shop lifting since shoppers can carry their own reusable bags into the store which they presumably use to sneak out products. An oped in Fox News suggested that the manufacture of cloth bags is actually more energy intensive than making plastic bags, that cloth bags are imported from China, thus impacting American jobs, and that plastic bag bans increase the cost of food and other products. The Fox News oped also suggests that plastic bag recycling is easier than environmentalists purport it to beTexas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
- Conservation & Recycling
- Politics & Government
- plastic shopping bags