Companies make moves to go green, but Texas says no to bag bans

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Plastic bag bans spread across country, but not Texas

Starbucks is dropping plastic straws. Dunkin Donuts is ditching Styrofoam. But despite corporate moves to be more environmentally-friendly, Texas is proudly bucking the trend.

Late last month, the state supreme court ruled plastic bag bans in cities across Texas were unconstitutional. Eleven cities passed bag bans: Austin, Sunset Valley, Port Aransas, Laguna Vista, Fort Stockton, Eagle Pass, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Kermit, Freer and South Padre Island.

Dallas had previously considered it but never passed it.

Retail groups sued to overturn the Laredo ban and the move was supported by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton warned cities with current disposable plastic bag bans that they'll face legal action if they continue to enforce such ordinances.

The ruling is one in line with what state leaders have been emphasizing more and more: cities shouldn't try to clamp down on what they see as individual freedoms.

State lawmakers last year passed a law keeping cities from regulating cell phone towers, instead making it a state issue.

Bag bans have spread across the country as more and more cities struggle with the bags that wind up in trees and ditches and take thousands of years to degrade. Many municipal recycling systems, including Houston's, don't accept bags either.

But as the bans spread internationally, consumers -- and lawmakers -- are pushing back.

Michigan passed a ban on banning plastic bags in 2015. Idaho, Arizona and Missouri have similar legislation.

Industries that play a role in bag production have been vocal as well, from the American Chemistry Council to the Retail Merchants Association, suggesting that plastic bags are a tiny percent of pollution and litter, and that the bans don't work.

Novolex, a company that produces a number of plastic bags, even created a website called "Bag The Ban" that claims that plastic bags are actually "the right choice for the environment" and suggests that 90 percent of consumers reuse plastic bags. A flyer even connects grocery store basket thefts with bag bans, though offers no direct evidence that the ban led to the thefts.

But there's nothing to stop businesses from making its own rules about bags. Stores like Aldi charge for plastic bags.

Texas' court decision goes directly to whether or not bags are considered "garbage" under state law. The court ruled it is, and therefore could not be banned under state law. Local laws may not conflict with state law.
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