City Hall

Dallas Might Ban Plastic Bags Tomorrow

Dallas City Council will vote Wednesday whether to replace the nickel charge for disposable grocery bags, which became effective January 1, with an outright ban.

"It's an environmental issue. These bags, because of the physical nature of the bags, they are going to be a permanent litter problem. It doesn't matter how careful you handle them. It doesn't matter how committed everyone is to recycling. They just blow around," council member Philip Kingston says of the on the thin, urban tumbleweed. "We just need to get away from them."

The vote comes after dueling groups of five city council members asked Mayor Mike Rawlings to do something about the 5-cent fee, which raised more than $500,000 for the city in the first quarter of 2015 but has led to Dallas being sued by a group of plastic bag manufacturers. Vonciel Jones Hill, Jennifer Staubach Gates, Sheffie Kadane, Jerry Allen and Rick Callahan asked Rawlings to simply repeal the ordinance. Lee Kleinman, Dwaine Caraway, Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano and Philip Kingston asked the mayor for a vote to convert the fee to a ban.

Only the ban is on Wednesday's agenda, but that would be as good as a repeal for the nickel charge, practically speaking. Whichever direction the council goes, something needs to be done about the current bag situation. According to an August 2014 opinion issued by then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, outright bans might be legal, but imposing a fee on their use is likely illegal.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young