Dallas Bans Free Plastic Bags

To Take Effect January 1, 2015

Dallas Bag BanCity councilors in Dallas have approved an ordinance that bans restaurants, grocers and convenience stores from handing out single-use plastic bags for free to customers. The new law is a partial ban, requiring store customers to pay $0.05 per plastic bag. A proposal to give businesses the alternative to charge $1.00 per transaction instead was tossed out. “Change is extremely hard, I understand that. But at some point, we have to put our foot down and clean up our environment,” Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway said.

Set to take effect on January 1, 2015, the ordinance requires retailers that keep providing plastic and paper bags to register with the city and keep track of bags sold. The businesses get to keep 10% of the total fees they charge for the bags. The city will use bag fee proceeds to help fund enforcement and education efforts. This year, Dallas will also assign five employees and spend $250,000 to educate residents and the city’s 20,000 retailers about the ban.

Under the new law, single-use plastic bags are prohibited at all Dallas city facilities, events and properties. City council passed the ban in a split 8-6 vote. Local Dallas media reported that Councilman Rick Callahan called the partial ban “anti-business, anti-choice,” adding that it was a “government intrusion.”

Analysts say there’s a chance the Texas Retailers Association (TRA) or other ordinance opponents could consider suing to keep Dallas from putting the law into place. The TRA is reportedly seeking an opinion from the Texas attorney general on the legality of banning bags.