Port Aransas bans single-use plastic bags

byobCorpus Christi Caller-Times
David Sikes

CORPUS CHRISTI – The Port Aransas City Council voted this week to ban the use of plastic bags at most retail stores within the island community.

The council also urged shops to voluntarily stop providing the thin plastic bags to customers beginning Jan. 1, 2015. The outright ban goes into effect Jan. 1, 2016. Vendors who sell fishing bait, seafood and other raw foods may continue using the single-use bags indefinitely, said City Manager Dave Parsons.

The vote was 5-1, with local restaurant owner Edwin Myers casting the dissenting vote.

The ban puts Port Aransas on a growing list of Texas cities that have adopted some form of plastic bag restriction. The list of at least 10 cities includes Austin, Dallas, Freer, Brownsville, Laredo and South Padre Island. In addition, two states and 20 countries have regulated the single-use bags to curb littering, according to Neil McQueen, president of the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, which campaigns for bag bans through its Skip the Plastic program.

City leaders in Rockport, Corpus Christi and other area communities have entertained similar ordinances that would curb the use of plastic bags.

“We plan to continue advocating bans in Rockport, Corpus Christi and other surrounding communities so we have a more comprehensive and effective ban to help protect the entire Coastal Bend,” McQueen said. “We’ve seen an increase of people using reusable bags, but unfortunately its not enough. It’s encouraging, but not enough.”

McQueen said curbing the use of the ubiquitous, lightweight bags that litter the landscape goes beyond aesthetics. Wildlife, especially birds and marine animals such as sea turtles, suffer as well. He said Tony Amos, a renowned researcher at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute and founder of the Animal Rehabilitation Keep for injured animals, made this assertion during several public meetings leading up to Thursday’s vote.

McQueen said Amos again addressed the council at Thursday’s meeting, which attracted a near capacity crowd. In a compelling argument, McQueen said Amos described details of injured or dead birds and marine animals that either consumed the plastic or became entangled in the discarded bags left on the beach, in the dunes and in the bays and gulf.

A total of eight people addressed the bag issue during the meeting. Six favored the ban, Parsons said. The council considered allowing bags made of material that would break down in a composting process. But this clause was removed from the final draft. McQueen said the council was not convinced the compostable material would degrade underwater or over time in the dunes.

Environmental organization makes way through Lubbock

kevanlubbockMy Fox Lubbock
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We all have them in out TV remotes, in our kids toys, and yet many of us are not disposing of them properly.

Household batteries are impacting landfills. According to the Texas Campaign for the Environment about three billion batteries are buried in landfills every year. That’s why the organization is making its way through Lubbock, door to door, and preparing legislation ahead of the next state session.

“Batteries are toxic and corrosive, should not be thrown away into landfills,” Kevan Drake senior field manager said. “So we are working on to getting manufacturers to take them back, reuse their materials, right? Set up drop offs at your local store so that every body’s able to recycle for free in Texas.”