Paper, or else: Dallas council bans plastic bags

TANGLED UP IN PLASTIC: This sign outside a Santa Fe grocery store bids farewell to plastic bags but the citywide ban is proving difficult to implement. NM Watchdog photo.

By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org

The Dallas City Council approved a measure Wednesday restricting grocers and other retailers from providing free plastic bags to customers.

The council had discussed a plastic bag ban for more than a year, but settled on charging customers a fee of 5-cents per bag.

Researchers have found that bans on plastic bags harm retailers by costing them customers.

Pamela Villarreal, a senior fellow with the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, a free-market think tank, studied the ban on plastic bags in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.

“We found out that people would just vote with their feet,” Villarreal said. “Some of these businesses that were on the borders were losing customers.”

Her study found that one year after the ban became law, 60 percent of the stores in the incorporated areas had seen an increase in sales, averaging 9 percent, while about four-fifths of the stores in the unincorporated areas had seen a drop in sales, averaging nearly 6 percent.

A fifth of the stores saw an increase in the loss of shopping carts and hand baskets, with an average loss of $1,500 per month.

“The way Dallas is laid out, you could have people doing the same thing, going to Duncanville or Richardson or Rockwall or wherever to do their shopping,” she said.

Plastic bags make up just a half percent of all litter, Villarreal said.

The ban was approved on an 8-6 vote, and will go into effect Jan. 1.

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