By Spectrum News Staff | June 22, 2018 @7:25 AM
AUSTIN, Texas – Plastic bags could be coming back to Austin after the state Supreme Court struck down the ban on Friday.
The Texas Supreme Court examined the single-use bag ordinances for 11 Texas cities, including Austin and Laredo. The restriction banned the use of plastic bags.
The ruling states that local governments cannot restrict the sale of containers or packages if it not authorized by state law.
“I commend the Texas Supreme Court for upholding the principle that no one is exempted from the rule of law. This ruling sends the unambiguous message to all local jurisdictions in Texas that they do not get to simply ignore laws they don’t agree with,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
In 2015, Laredo retailers sued the City over the rule. There were two lower court rulings; one declaring the law legal and the other declaring it illegal.
Texas’ high court previously heard arguments on the matter in January.
Advocates want to restrict the use of plastic bags to reduce litter and improve recycling. Groups including the Texas Campaign for the Environment, Texans for Clean Water, and numerous retailers argued before the courts to keep the bans instated at local levels.
“We are very disappointed in today’s ruling,” said Environment Texas Executive Director Luke Metzger. “Plastic pollution is harming wildlife, marring the beauty of our cities, and threatening our health, safety and economy. Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute our environment for hundreds of years.”
Metzger said advocates are calling on major retailers, like HEB and Walmart, to still observe the ban.
CEO George Kelemen said this decision is a victory for retailers across the state.
“That’s a cost that a company has to bear just for that particular jurisdiction versus bags across the board stamped with their logo that can they distribute throughout their market,” said Kelemen, CEO of the The Texas Retailers Association. “This creates a level playing field sort of a one size fits all kind of proposal for the state as it relates to the regulation of packaging, not just simply plastic bags, but packaging in general.”
For opponents and supporters of the ban, the impact of Friday’s decision likely won’t be understood right away.
“We will certainly start to see over the next weeks and months how this is going to develop,” added Kelemen.
Plastic bags have been banned in Austin since 2013. The Texas Retailers Association attempted to sue the city of Austin over their ban in 2013, but eventually dropped the suit.