Lubbock leaders address idea of plastic bag ban - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/13/10

Lubbock leaders address idea of plastic bag ban

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By Ben Lawson  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - You've no doubt seen them stuck on fences or snagged in fields, but could a ban on plastic bags really help?  At least one Texas city thinks so. Last week, Brownsville city leaders approved the first ban on plastic bags in the state.  Now, we ask Lubbock leaders if they think we would ever see a similar ban.

Lubbock does have programs to prevent plastic bag litter, but they don't always work. Many bags end up blowing around the city, and even if they're trashed, they fill up the landfill. So, is a ban the answer to this problem?

"They become a problem," Lubbock Mayor Tom Martin said.  He says the bags aren't just unsightly, they can also cause serious problems for city sewer systems. "That is a big concern, but we have crews there to clean out the storm sewers so those don't cause a back up,"Martin said. 

Recently, more people have started using reusable bags. "I'd say that we've probably sold in the neighborhood of three-quarters of a million of those bags already chain-wide," Eddie Owens with United Supermarkets said. 

He says others also take advantage of plastic bag recycling at their stores. "I actually take part in the program myself, and I hardly am able to get my bags in the can, because it's always full. So, it's been a tremendous success," Owens said. 

Owens says the popularity of both programs shows that people see the problem and want to be part of a solution.  "They're just like you and I; they see those bags up against the fences, blowing around," Owens said. 

Some argue a ban on plastic bags isn't the answer. According to the American Chemistry Council, a study on San Francisco's ban, enacted in 2007, showed more people switched to paper bags, which required more energy to produce and generated more waste. The same study points out the city's own litter audit found the ban didn't reduce litter.

Still, the idea is growing. 12 cities already have bag bans in place.  So, would the Hub City ever join the effort.  Mayor Martin doesn't think so. "The cost of enforcing that would be very high, and we would have to add it on to the residential waste collection fee," Martin said.

" I think it's a better thing to rely on people in west Texas and the courtesy they have to not dispose of those by throwing them out," Martin added.

(Click Here) for more information about the City of Lubbock's recycling program.  You'll find more recycling information at GreenerLubbock.com.     

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