In August 2014, then-Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an advisory opinion finding that municipal ordinances restricting or prohibiting single-use plastic bags were likely in violation of existing state law. Ignoring the AG’s advice, the City of Dallas began implementing its 5-cent per plastic bag fee anyway in January 2015—and now the city could be in legal hot water.
That’s because a coalition of plastic retail bag manufacturers and recyclers filed suit today in district court alleging that the city’s ordinance “violates the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act, which explicitly prohibits a city from imposing ‘a fee or deposit on the sale or use of a container or package’ and expressly forbids a city from enacting an ordinance to ‘prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.’”
Speaking on behalf of the group, Mark Daniels had this to say:
“The plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry has invested millions in new technologies and education programs to enhance and promote the sustainability of this one-hundred percent recyclable product.”
“Bag bans, taxes or fees do not have a meaningful impact on reducing litter or waste, and, in the state of Texas, the law is clear that a city cannot ban or impose a fee on plastic bags. Dallas is in direct violation of Texas law.” [emphasis mine]
Of course, it’s not just the city of Dallas that is likely in direct violation of Texas law. There are close to one-dozen municipalities spread throughout Texas that have comparable single-use plastic bag bans and fees in place. Should the court rule against the city of Dallas and in favor of consumer rights, then it’s almost certain that these other prohibitions and restrictions will scrutinized next.