A no doubt trickle down effect of last month’s Supreme Court ruling in Laredo, Texas stating that plastic bag ordinances are illegal, the city of South Padre Island is considering doing away with their own plastic bag ordinance.
Since 2012 the City of South Padre Island has had this ordinance in place which requires businesses to only offer customers compostable plastic and compostable paper checkout bags.
It has done its job of cutting down on plastic bags that endanger the sea turtles in the area as well as cut down on the waste found throughout the island. In Laredo, the estimates were a reduction of about 200 million plastic bags used a year. South Padre’s beaches have definitely seen the fruits of this as well.
City Council Members to Vote On Plastic Bag Ordinance
However, reading the way the Supreme Court ruled recently has put City Council members in the position of having to vote on this ordinance despite the concern over the impact these bags will have once again on these endangered sea turtles. In fact, recently the City of South Padre Island received a letter from the Texas Attorney General stating their ordinance violates state law, prompting the decision to hold a vote on the topic.
Elsewhere, Environment Texas has asked big retailers to keep their policy in place. While legally this may indeed violate state law, here’s to hoping this issue does not go away and either new legislation is put into place to protect wildlife as well as the public or there is an allowance for these types of ordinances to be enacted.
Austin, who passed their ordinance in 2013, as well as many other cities who have enacted such an ordinance, may have to do similarly as the City of South Padre Island. All legal options are currently being weighed by Laredo officials and environmentalists throughout the state as the ordinance has served as a model for businesses and their stakeholders to develop good local legislation.
Putting Wildlife First
At some point what is obvious to most, the benefit of such a ban seen through less waste and the dangers it poses to the public and wildlife should outweigh whatever legal concerns there may be. There is one thing for certain times have changed and the laws need to adapt to such change. For the most part they have but hopefully, our elected officials and legislators can figure out how to resolve this one which has not yet.