Austin’s Plastic Bag Ban Worse for Environment Than Bags It Outlaws

In an effort to protect the environment, Austin,Texas passed an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags in 2013.

However, a recent review concludes that Austin’s bag ban has backfired, creating more negative effects on the environment than the plastic bags it outlawed.

“Beginning March 1, 2013, no person may provide single-use carryout bags at any City facility, City-sponsored event, or any event held on City property,” the ordinance reads. “Beginning March 1, 2013, a business establishment within the City limits may not provide single-use carryout bags to its customers or to any person.”

Two years after the bag ban was implemented, the city asked the Austin Resource Recovery group to investigate its effectiveness. Their June 10 report, written by Aaron Waters, states that while the ban was successful in lowering the amount of single-use plastic bags made from high-density polyethylene in city landfills, it was actually worse for the environment overall.

“The amount of single use plastic bags has been reduced, both in count and by weight,” Waters states. “However, in their place, the larger 4 mil [4/1,000ths of an inch] bags have replaced them as the go to standard when the reusable bag is left at home. This reusable plastic bag, along with the paper bag, has a very high carbon footprint compared to the single use bag.”