Texas Campaign for the Environment: News
Corpus Christi Caller-Times, September 5, 2012 By Jessica Savage
State group advocates for plastic bag ban, leads door-to-door petition in Corpus Christi area
Residents who live in neighborhoods off Santa Fe Street and Louisiana Boulevard can expect a doorstep visit Tuesday from a state environmental group circulating a petition to eliminate plastic bags.
Organizers with Texas Campaign for the Environment will arrive in the Corpus Christi area at 4 p.m. Tuesday and stay through Thursday. They'll start in neighborhoods along the bay and then head out to Alice on Wednesday, wrapping up their area efforts Thursday on Padre Island. It's part of a statewide petition drive to visit 181 state house and senate districts across Texas, so the group can build support ahead of the next Legislative session, which begins Jan. 1. Electronic waste recycling also is a part of the group's agenda.
The group advocated in Corpus Christi earlier this year, and organizers decided to return after new political boundaries were set during the redistricting process.
"Corpus Christi is one of the jewels of the state and so obviously it's also an important area politically," said Jeffrey Jacoby, staff director for the group in Austin. "Texans in all corners of the state deserve a voice on environmental legislative issues."
Earlier this year the local Surfrider Foundation chapter began a public conversation about plastic bag litter in the city. They staged news conferences outside City Hall and lobbied for stronger enforcement in Corpus Christi during a public comment time at the council meetings.
Surfriders have proposed Corpus Christi adopt an ordinance modeled after one in Brownsville, which charges customers $1 per transaction if they use plastic bags. Money collected mostly pays for litter education, awareness and cleanups. The program has been successful in Brownsville, city staff and residents there have said.
Council members instead followed a city staff recommendation to roll out a yearlong education campaign and monitor the results. If there isn't a substantial difference in the problem come February, then staff will propose more aggressive efforts, including a bag fee.
Plastic bag litter costs taxpayers money, about $1,000 a day, according to city officials. A contract landfill operator is required by state environmental laws to retrieve windblown trash within a radius of the landfill. Plastic bags are the third most collected litter item in the city, behind plastic bottles and cigarette butts.
There are about 180 tons of plastic film being stored at the city recycling center because the city contractor can't find a buyer for the material.
City staff are expected to update the council later this month about the education program.
Brownsville, Fort Stockton and Pecos have passed bag fee ordinances. Earlier this year Austin placed a ban on plastic bags. At one time, Rockport considered a plastic bag fee and a bag ban. Other cities are discussing what to do about plastic bag litter, include Houston, Dallas, Midland, Odessa and Big Spring.
Organizers are asking Corpus Christi residents to contact their local elected officials and urge them to pass an ordinance as well.
The grass roots organization is financed through more than 60,000 individual contributions — ranging from a few dollars to several hundred — generated by door-to-door solicitation each year. They also generate more than 75,000 personal letters each year from the community to governmental and corporate decision-makers.