Central Texas

Austin single-use bags

Plastic checkout bags have been in production since the early 1980's and have become a beacon of convenience for consumers, but in recent years, they have also been a cause of much pollution in our communities, waterways, sewage systems and recycling plants.

In 2010, TCE and the Austin Zero Waste Alliance pushed for the City to quantify the costs of plastic bag pollution and the City staff has determined that the city now spends $850,000 annually and that local businesses probably spent twice as much. This only covers the costs borne by the City – not the state, federal government or unquantifiable costs to wildlife and the environment.

On August 4, 2011, the Austin City Council voted unanimously to instruct city staff to draft an ordinance to address single-use bag pollution. TCE and other advocates are pushing for the inclusion of paper bags in the final ordinance and requesting the city do a study on the societal and environmental impacts of paper bags, as it did with plastic bags.

LCRA coal plant lawsuit

In March 2011, TCE filed a federal lawsuit aimed at cleaning up air pollution from the Lower Colorado River Authority's (LCRA) and the City of Austin's coal-fired power plant located between Austin and Houston. The lawsuit seeks civil penalties for thousands of Clean Air Act violations.