By Mary Mazzoni on Feb 1, 2012

Austin Residents Debate Bag Ban Online

plastic bag, shopping bag, bag, thank you, thank you bag, grocery bag

Photo: Flickr/jonathan.youngblood

Late last year, lawmakers in Austin, Texas passed an ordinance to slap fees on plastic and paper carryout bags in 2013 and ban them outright by 2014. Although the city vowed to attain “zero-waste” by 2040, carryout bag legislation has seen mixed reviews from locals.

Environmental groups like Texas Campaign for the Environment support the legislation, saying it will reduce landfill waste and help solidify the city’s position as one of the greenest in America, local news station KXAN-TV reported.

Opponents of the ordinance are concerned that the ban will be costly to certain stores and cause thousands who work for recycling plants to lose their jobs, the station reported.

To clear the air, local waste management officials decided to go interactive and allow residents and business owners to share ideas about the bag ban via phone lines, texts and Web forums.

Austin Resource Recovery hosted the interactive event in city council chambers on Monday night, and locals were invited to attend in person or watch live online, KXAN-TV said.

To participate, community members dialed in by phone, sent suggestions via text message or posted feedback on the Web. Questions centered around the timeline for the ban, cost of the phase-in period and ideas for implementation, the station reported.

The bag ban has generated a sizable stir in the city, and loads of locals logged on to voice their opinions. Austin Resource Recovery’s Bob Gedert told local news affiliate Your News Now that he’s heard from more than 100 stakeholders and thousands of constituents while shaping the legislation.

Input from the meeting will be used to draft a finalized version of the ordinance, city officials said. City staff and stakeholders are also inviting residents to get involved in the issue by joining an online discussion or attending an upcoming Solid Waste Services Advisory Commission meeting.

READ: 25 Calif. Cities Now Have Plastic Bag Bans

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