Accuracy has never been a virtue of the Austin City Council. A new report finds that the City of Austin severely overestimated the amount of littered bags and possible savings used to justify their new ban on plastic and paper shopping bags.

Austin’s most serious attempt to institute San Francisco-style intrusions into the free market looks even more deflated than it did five months ago.  A new Texas Watchdog report shows that the City of Austin “overstated the amount and cost-impact of plastic bags by about 366%”. That’s bad even for government work.

The type of grocery bag you may soon be forced to use when shopping in the City of Austin

Keep in mind that plastic bags aren’t even in the Top 10 sources of litter on our highways. The Keep America Beautiful litter study found that cigarette butts, mixed trash, paper, beverage cups, napkins, bottles, food remnants, food wrappers, beverage cans and food containers are all more frequently left behind than plastic shopping bags.

And paper bags are even less commonly found, but that isn’t stopping the council from pushing to ban them too. By eliminating all possible sources of disposable bags, the council is leaving only one way to transport your groceries to and from the store: cloth bags.

The same bags that serve as breeding grounds for dangerous food-borne bacteria. A University of Arizona study found that they pose “a serious threat to public health, especially from coliform bacteria including E. coli,” creating a danger to young children in particular, mainly because consumers are unaware of the need to sanitize the bags on a weekly basis.

As John Adams once said, “facts are stubborn things” – and the City of Austin is proving that they aren’t going to let facts about costs and health risks get in the way of what they think is better for you. If the ban is passed in March, as it’s scheduled to do, Austinites have another reason to dispose of their city council members.

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