Texas Retailers Association Drops Lawsuit to Stop Plastic Bag Ban

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Plastic bags are for quitters.  

In a victory for the environment and NPR tote bags and a loss for big business and libertarians, the Texas Retailers Association today filed a Notice of Non-Suit with the Travis County District Court in its lawsuit to half the city's bag ban (formally known as the Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance).  In short, they dismissed their own case; the bag ban lives.

The City of Austin released a statement concerning the TRA's abdication:

“While crafting this ordinance over the past several years, we worked with a number of stakeholders including TRA, business owners and managers, environmentalists and the general public to create a sound policy,” said Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “We now have in place a smarter way to do business with the added benefit of helping our environment. Since the policy went into effect six months ago, I've heard very few complaints and Austin's consumers and businesses alike seem to be adjusting well.”

“The City's Bring It Austin initiative is a broad education and outreach effort to help residents and businesses understand the new rules requiring reusable bags. The City of Austin mailed information about the ordinance to more than 17,000 businesses, held training sessions for retailers, and created an online toolkit with signage templates, answers to FAQs, a training video for employees and more.

To read the rest of the statement, go below the jump.  The statement goes on:

“The City of Austin has been working with businesses affected by the ordinance to prepare them for the changes and help them successfully comply with the rules,” said Austin Resource Recovery Director Bob Gedert. “Every business has its own unique challenges, and we've worked side-by-side with business owners and managers to answer questions and provide assistance. So far, the business community has risen to the challenge. We haven't received many complaints, and we have received feedback from the community that they are starting to see a reduction in plastic bag litter in parking lots and along City streets.”

The Bring It Austin initiative also encourages shoppers to adopt the habit of bringing their own bags whenever they shop. The City has distributed more than 16,000 reusable bags at neighborhood centers, shopping centers, community events and through nonprofits that serve low-income Austinites.”

Robin Schneider of Texas Campaign for the Environment also released a statement:

“Austin's single-use bag ordinance has been an unqualified success. We are already seeing less litter and smoother operations for Austin's infrastructure, and we have heard no credible reports of harm to business or public health.

“This lawsuit was a cynical attempt by powerful interests to intimidate communities who wanted to follow Austin's lead, but in the end these opponents had to admit that Austin got it right after all. Now we look forward to other communities-Dallas, Laredo, San Antonio and others-joining Austin, Brownsville, South Padre Island, Fort Stockton, Laguna Vista, Sunset Valley and Freer in adopting local policies to address the pollution and destruction caused by single-use bags.

“We are grateful for officials with the City of Austin who stuck by this law during this challenge, and we look forward to fighting for new policies to address problem products in Austin and across Texas.”

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