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Dallas City Hall Targets Plastic Shopping Bags

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By BJ Austin, KERA Reporter

Dallas, TX – A Dallas City Council committee knocks down suggestions for a fee or ban on plastic shopping bags. KERA's BJ Austin says the committee wants to use persuasion and partnerships with retailers to convince consumers to change their ways.

Plastic shopping bags are an expensive environmental problem in Dallas.

Eric Griffin, interim director of the Dallas Department of Environmental Quality: A recent estimate by the Parks Department concluded that the annual cost just to clean up the Trinity River would take about 40 percent of the clean up crews time just to pull the plastic bags out of the trees along the river. This comes just under $200,000 a year to clean up bags in the Trinity River.

Griffin brought suggestions to cut down on consumer use of the plastic bags to a city council committee. The ideas ranged from an education and recycling campaign, to a fee per bag, or an outright ban.

Linda Koop says education is the way to go.

Koop: I don't think we're in the business to go about taxing plastic bags. We're in the business as a council and as a community about educating people about why they should conserve, why they should recycle, what's better for the environment.

Koop also says Dallas needs to acquire the ability to recycle plastic bags put in the blue curbside recycling bins. Right now, they end up in the landfill.