Representatives from several of the city’s largest retailers were at city hall Tuesday to discuss a potential ban on single-use plastic bags in San Antonio.
“We see (plastic bags) in our creekways, we see them littering our parks,” said District 7 Councilman Cris Medina. “I think that San Antonio can prove that we can see some sort of significant change when it comes to single-use bags.”
Whether a ban is practical, or even prudent, was a major topic of discussion.
Plastic bags are already banned in Brownsville and Austin, and officials from HEB and Walmart said the change is not going over well with customers.
“This is a classic case where what’s good for business is not necessarily the right thing for customers,” said Dya Campos, director of public affairs for HEB. “Phasing out plastic bags is the right thing to do there is no doubt about that. The way in which we do it is really important and as a city we need to be very diligent in how we do this and how we impose this on our customers.”
Medina said if the city does not completely ban plastic bags then efforts to educate the public on their environmental impact must improve.
“The city spent about $400,000 in trying to increase awareness through a campaign. It really didn’t work. It wasn’t as successful as we thought,” Medina said. “The intent and objective has been all along for us to have a comprehensive look on how we can reduce the single use bag in our community.”
Representatives from the plastic bag manufacturing industry also attended the meeting.
Phil Rozenski, who works for Hilexpoly, the nation’s largest manufacturer and recycler of retail bags, said officials need all the facts before a decisions can be made.
“When it comes to plastic retail bags there's a lot of misunderstanding. They're actually half-a-percent of litter, they’re not the main source of litter. Plastic retail bags are highly recycled, but they’re also highly reused,” he said. “We employ 4,500 families here in the state of Texas manufacturing and recycling plastic retail bags because of that this is a very important issue.”
On Feb. 19 city staff will make a recommendation on whether to move forward with plans to draft an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags or allow more time for discussion.
Beginning Aug. 1 residents will be allowed to put single-use plastic bags into city recycle bins.