A coalition of plastic retail bag manufacturers and recyclers recently filed suit in the District Court of Dallas arguing that their Single-Use Carryout Bag ordinance violates the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act.
The act explicitly prohibits a city from imposing “a fee or deposit on the sale or use of a container or package” and expressly forbids a city from enacting an ordinance to “prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.”
The plaintiffs argue that, in a direct violation of state law, Ordinance 29307 levies a five-cent fee for each bag provided at the checkout counter. In 2014, the Texas Attorney General issued a formal written opinion stating current state law likely prohibits bag bans and fees.
Aside from the legality of the ordinance, it’s created a new burden for both local businesses and residents. Store-owners are forced to shoulder additional cost burdens through increased regulatory compliance, with the threat of fines levied by a municipal bureaucracy specifically created to punish offenders. Some risk losing customers who choose to shop elsewhere.
Legislation filed by State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) aims to protect businesses and individuals from such government intrusion. Gov. Abbott has also publicly criticized nanny-state regulations including bag bans or fees.
Politicians and bureaucrats often overlook the unintended consequences of “well-intentioned” regulations aimed at “protecting” the environment. Although bag bans are considered just another silly example of such intrusion, the free-market has allocated significant capital to address the alleged environmental concerns created by the remarkable innovation of disposable bags.
“The plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry has invested millions in new technologies to enhance and promote the sustainability of this one-hundred percent recyclable product,” said Mark Daniels, Senior Vice President of Sustainability with Hilex who’s a plaintiff in the suit.
If Rinaldi’s legislation to protect Texans by clarifying existing state law isn’t passed by the legislature, the issue may be resolved in the courts.