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Bag Ban Removed From Council Agenda For More Input, Pushed To March

Flickr user Kate Ter Haar

This week the San Antonio City Council Governance Committee was to discuss a potential single-use plastic bag ban but the item was pulled from the agenda.

In an effort to get community input on a possible plastic bag ban in San Antonio, District 7 Councilman Cris Medina last week convened a group of people from the retail industry, the city and others to talk about a ban on single-use plastic bags.

"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," Medina said. "We see it in our creekways, we see it littering our parks. I think that San Antonio can prove that we can see some sort of significant change when it comes to single-use bags."

After the round-table talk, the city told the group that the topic would be discussed this week. That caught many by surprise because it appeared the city could be moving forward with a recommendation on banning plastic bags shortly after this group met to weigh the pros and cons.

But in a short time, the item got pulled and is now on the March agenda. Medina said late Sunday the move allows more time for discussion before city staff make a recommendation of any kind.

"I think the consensus in the room was, 'Let's continue to talk, let's continue to discuss,' " Medina said.

The issue is controversial. H-E-B's Dya Campos has maintained that education is really important when talking about a ban.

That's why she says San Antonio isn't ready. There hasn't been any kind of preparation and education campaign outlined.

"Overwhelmingly, the group [Medina convened] feels a ban is too soon but I think that the meeting was definitely a great start and a very short amount of time allotted to an issue that deserves more time," Campos said.

While a bag ban hasn't been worked out, starting in August people will be able to recycle their plastic bags from home in the city's blue recycling carts. Solid Waste Director David McCary says between now and March, people will be given instructions on how to do it.

"It'll be kind of like your bag inside of bags, so that when it does come through the processing facility, it is easy to extract it out and make certain that it is properly recycled," he said.

A recycling component may be part of the overall plan. Medina said reduction of bags may be one option. There will still be plenty of feedback time before any recommendation is made.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.