San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas


The San Marcos City Council this week may take the first steps toward banning single-use bags.

Supporters of the ban propose the city adopt an ordinance along the lines of the City of Brownsville’s bag law. Brownsville’s ordinance prohibits merchants from giving customers non-reusable bags, with some exceptions. The law requires merchants to charge a $1-per-transaction fee to customers who request plastic or other non-reusable bags.

Revenue from such a fee is proposed to be used for City of San Marcos environmental programs, recycling, and cleanup initiatives.

Exceptions to Brownsville’s law include retail clothing stores, dry cleaners, veterinarians, pharmacies, and plastic bags intended to prevent contamination from any cooked, chilled or frozen food purchased.

Supporters of the ban will offer a presentation at City Hall during the city council meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Information submitted to the council by the Texas State Student Chapter of Environmental Conservation Organization, which supports the ban, can be found in the council’s agenda packet under item 19. After discussing the matter at their Tuesday meeting, council members may direct staff to gather more information or prepare an ordinance.

Those who wish to address the council about this issue may signup for the citizen comment period. Members of the public may signup at the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall during regular business hours, or from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. before Tuesday’s meeting.

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22 thoughts on “City council to consider plastic bag ban

  1. Insanity. They will throw out a legitimate public health concern over “rights of the individual property owner” and then turn around and consider this type of measure? What about the rights of the individual business owner to provide plastic bags to their customers?

  2. Let the students make their presentation (as long as they are city residents), compliment their civic engagement and power point skills, and then get on with real business. I don’t think we should worry about what local families carry their groceries in until more local families have enough cash to buy groceries.

  3. This is crazy….the cost of grociers is bad enough. This is a political football based in nothing but politics. All cities who have approved some kind of ban have seen their waste costs skyrocket, including Brownsville, where paper has increased 10 fold….when plastic isnt there people are forced to use paper as the next convenience. The $5 reusable bag is not worth the money, plus you have to wash it which defeats the purpose of being enviromentally viable. Most all of us use these plastic bags not only for grociers but also other uses around the house, which if not there, we would be forced to buy other plastic bags, that cannot be recycled. This is a bad idea, why not learn that there is recycling centers in every major box store in our city….why not start a campaign to teach people to use them….plus it wouldn’t cost the city and us the taxpayer a dime…

  4. Oh, dear. Here we go again. Such nonsense. This is not Austin, thank God. The council should simply listen and then drop the matter altogether. And good comment from Winchester. And, yes, I do take the plastic bags back to HEB for recycling. That at least saves the petroleum, probably natural gas, that would be used to make more plastic. Look at me, look at me, I’m an environmentalist, too.

  5. In our household, those plastic bags are anything but “single use”. Some may rip on the way home and get thrown away, but the vast majority are used for cleaning cat boxes, wastebasket liners, or even “ghetto luggage” for family road trips. I would hate to see them go just because that would mean we would not only have to buy reusable shopping bags for grocery trips, but we would also have to buy more trash bags for “around the house” use.

  6. They fit my trash cans in the house, saving me money because I don’t have to buy bags. Are they any different than those I would buy, except they are essentially free? No. Ask the merchants, the proposed ban wouldn’t ban bags, just plastic ones; paper bags are more expensive.

    Never mind, preaching to the choir.

  7. This group has the right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” With that being said, I think most people have more serious grievances and concerns than plastic bags.

  8. Wow. Yes, why don’t we put another cost on already rising grocery prices. I wonder if any council members up for re-election support this. Another point that confirms my decision to move out of SM. Don’t worry, I still pay a ton of taxes their so my opinion still counts. I just can’t vote….

  9. You guys have a lot to learn about progression. Sure there are more important things to have city council meetings about, but the solution here is too simple to not address: stop distributing a single-use, non-biodegradeable, barely recycled material for free-pretty much encouraging it. 9/10 people DO NOT re-use or recycle these bags- go to the grocery store and see for yourselves. There is also no point it handing out single-use paper bags- Although they can be easily recycled (as opposed to plastic which is terribly inconvenient in the recycling process, according to the manager of the TDS Materials Recovery Facility near Creedmoor), they’re more expensive and not as durable with moist goods. The solution is the 25 CENT re-usable bags that people can easily develop a habit of bringing to the store (along with their wallets, which is also a learned behavior) this way you don’t have to pay the $1 fee (which is simply an incentive to change an inefficient, wasteful behavior). So you still reserve the right to continue wasting and contributing to the plastic islands the size of the U.S. in the Pacific (that are breaking down ecosystems & food chains of fish we rely upon to feed the rising global population), only now you have to pay a dollar (rather than 25 cents for a re-usable bag) to discourage this insane behavior. Free enterprise works (it got us to where we are now), but it must be regulated or else it will encourage over-consumption & wasteful lifestyles. Resources are running out people- and the population is not getting any smaller. We need to be more efficient or the near future will be much harder and much more tragic than it needs to be. The progression starts with the discontinuation of single-use bags at the grocery store. Stop resisting progress out of stubbornness and focus on the long-term NEED of humanity, rather than a short-term inconvenience.

  10. Realist – have you ever gone to anyone’s house who didn’t have a stash of HEB bags? Of course not – we save them because they’re so darned convenient. It’s false to call them single-use. I even have mine sorted – HEB, Wal-Mart and Target with Target being the best because they’re a little bit bigger and thicker. Next, I don’t want to be out on the bleeding edge of this issue. Let Austin and others learn it and we can avoid their mistakes.

  11. For God’s sake,do we want to follow the likes of the enviro-authoritarians who seem to rule the west coast? How about we wise up. Okay? Here’s something more to ponder from Insider Report from

    Plastic Bag Ban Could Harm Environment

    Seattle has become the latest city to ban plastic bags — a move that some observers say will harm the environment the ban is designed to protect.

    The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 on Dec. 19 to ban single-use plastic bags and impose a five-cent tax on paper bags to “protect marine wildlife.” Retailers will collect the paper bag tax.

    Many of the plastic bags, which are not biodegradable, end up in Puget Sound and break down into smaller pieces that can be consumed by shellfish, fish, turtles, birds, and marine mammals, according to the council’s website.

    But “moving consumers away from plastic bags only pushes people to less environmentally friendly options such as paper bags, which require more energy to produce and transport, and reusable bags, which are not recyclable,” said Mark Daniels, vice president of sustainability and environmental policy at Hilex Poly, which makes plastic bags.

    And Angela Logomasini, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment, said the manufacturer is “more in touch with the facts on this issue than environmentalists,” according to CNS News.

    Paper bags take up much more space in landfills than plastic bags, which generate 80 percent less waste and can be reused. Also, plastic bags are made from plentiful natural gas, while reusable bags are made from oil.

    “Plastics are extremely energy efficient to make, so you have a lot of energy savings up front,” Logomasini said.
    She added that environmentalists “only look at one side of the equation.”

    “It is an important concern for litter — plastic bags stay around longer — but the answer to that isn’t to get rid of them,” she said.
    Other cities that have banned plastic bags include San Francisco; Portland, Ore., Bellingham, Wash.; and Los Angeles County in California.

  12. I’d expect a story like this on Newsmax, just as I’d expect a story with an opposite slant appearing on HuffPost. Interestingly, the libertarian think tank cited in the article was founded by Fred L. Smith, Jr., who once argued that global warming is a good thing and would lead to unexpected windfalls, such as more money for fire departments forced by drought and high temperatures to battle more fires. Whatever else might be said about Fred L. Smith, he certainly earns high marks for Looking on the Bright Side.

    Let’s get real on this issue. Paper bags are reusable. Unless they are severely torn or soaked through, you can use them again and again. Our daughter used the same paper lunch bag every day for a semester. With every use, the overall per-use impact diminishes. Of course, by the end of the semester, it was practically like cloth, but it did the trick.

    Reusable grocery bags may require more energy and material to produce than a disposable, single-use plastic bag, but they last virtually forever. For years, we’ve had a collection of the green HEB bags that we use constantly and they’re holding up fine. Once they start weaving them from natural fibers like hemp, they’ll probably last even longer.

    The bottom line is that while many people reuse plastic bags out of a desire to be environmentally responsible or to save a few bucks on trash bags, many simply throw them out in a big plastic wad once they get their groceries home. If that second group was incentivized to develop the reuse/recycle habit, they’d change their behavior quickly, and in a way that benefits the community and the environment.

    Unless you’re working for a company like Hilex Poly, I fail to see the problem here. Of course, if you do work for Hilex Poly, then yeah, it’s a problem and you would spend aggressively to muster mighty lobbying forces to your aid. Among those who work to influence lawmakers on your behalf: The Competitive Enterprise Institute!

  13. Hey does anyone know the status of banning the plastic bags . I’m from Brownsville and would like to speak on the behalf for banning plastic bags. It’s a great idea

  14. Awesome. This council will consider banning plastic bags, but won’t lift a finger to protect the river from bad development practices. Why?

  15. Ban plastic grocery bags, force me to start buying plastic trash bags for garbage….. Priceless! Whom will pay for these purchases I would be forced to start making ? I choose not to. Paper vs plastic = Increased fossil fuels use consumption to ship heavier, bulkier paper bags, trees to make paper, etc etc . The net gain does not outweigh the net loss, sorry. 🙂 jlb

  16. Ban plastic bags in San Marcos and people will just buy groceries in Kyle. Studies have shown that cities with bag bans have more bag crime than cities without bans. People want bags and a ban will just force grocers to go underground to provide bags, making criminals out of law abiding citizens. Stop the War On Bags!

  17. If people will go back to the Kyle HEB maybe I could once again find a parking space at the SM HEB. It is more crowded than ever since the remodel. I wish they would get rid of that stupid car wash.

  18. I’m pretty sure the bag ban is dead in the water. This article is over a year old and there has been no recent discussion of it. Austin’s bag ban goes into effect pretty soon. Austin HEBs and some other big box stores will be giving away reusable bags the first couple of days of the ban in case any of you need to stock up.

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