plastic bags

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The city’s carryout bag ordinance takes effect Jan. 1. City Council last spring had proposed banning flimsy plastic bags outright, but they eventually compromised with a 5-cent fee per plastic or paper bag.

The idea is that the fee will result in fewer bags being used and less litter, fewer urban tumbleweeds. The city already spends about $4 million a year cleaning up litter, and the retail fees will go into an “environmental fund,” where it could be used for litter abatement.

“It’s basically a tax the customer is paying,” says Gary Huddleston, a spokesman for Kroger, a vocal opponent the ordinance. “If they bring a reusable bag, there’s no fee or tax.”

Huddleston says Kroger already trains its employees to use the fewest number of bags possible.

There is some question whether this ordinance will stand. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot has indicated the ordinance is not legal under state law. So a lawsuit over the ordinance seems likely.