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Split Opinions On Austin's Bag Ban

Does Austin support or oppose a plastic bag ban or would it prefer some kind of alternative? You decide! Two groups have somewhat conflicting polls on the issue, so you can pick whichever one supports your argument, Choose Your Own Adventure-style.

Let’s start with three polls by Austin political consultant Mark Littlefield. He issued a news release this morning reminding us that in all three polls he conducted on the topic – in 2007, 2010 and 2011 – 58 percent of respondents said they support a ban on plastic bags. About 35 percent opposed it.

We also received a new survey today from the Texas Retailers Association, conducted by the American Directions Group.  The TRA opposes a bag ban, and its survey found that about the same number of people opposed a bag ban (39 percent).

But the TRA survey also found that 72 percent of respondents support an alternative program to a bag ban that emphasizes reducing, reusing and recycling.

A study by the City of Austin suggests a citywide plastic bag curbside recycling program would cost about $2.7 million. Maintaining the status quo is costing taxpayers $850,000 per year in litter collection and other costs, according to the city.

Council is set to finalize a bag ban next month. As Mayor Lee Leffingwell told us last week, he would like to see “to the maximum extent possible, just taking them out of circulation altogether.”

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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