LAREDO, TEXAS- Laredo, TX – In an historic moment, the Laredo City Council voted 6-1 on Monday evening to pass a plastic bag ban, bringing closure to a nearly decade long campaign waged by local environmentalists.
The ban, set to take effect on April 30, 2015, will prohibit single-use retail plastic bags with a less than 4 mil thickness, and single-use paper bags with a less than a 30-pound weight standard. Exceptions will exist for restaurants, fast food establishments, meat products, dry cleaners, newspapers, nonprofits, and foods that are chilled or frozen.
Each year, Laredo – a city of roughly 240,000 people – consumes an average of 120 million plastic bags, according to city estimates. Plastic bag litter dots the city landscape and creates a significant problem for the city’s creeks and storm drains, and the Rio Grande, the city’s only source of drinking water – HERE.
“This has been a massive team effort, and represents an enormous victory for the environment, the river, and for the well-being of present and future generations,” RGISC Executive Director Tricia Cortez said.
“Plastic bags are not just a Laredo problem, they are a global problem,” Cortez said. “In the U.S., nearly 170 other cities have taken steps to deal with plastic bags. We applaud the City Council, mayor and city manager for their courage and leadership in recognizing the seriousness of this problem, and for moving Laredo into a new, progressive, and environmentally-focused direction.”
RGISC has been deeply involved with the movement to enact a plastic bag ban since the mid-2000s, and has worked closely with the city’s Environmental Services Department, and the city’s Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee (CEAC) and hundreds of volunteers on this initiative.
Working with professors from Texas A&M International University, nearly 60 RGISC and TAMIU volunteers conducted more than 800 door-to-door household surveys in all 8 city council districts to gauge public opinion on plastic bags and find out what type of plastic bag ordinance Laredoans supported.
The City held 39 public meetings and hearings have been held with residents and retailers since the mid-2000s. The first draft ordinance was completed in 2007.
During the one-year transition phase, between now and April 30, 2015, RGISC will work with the city on an education and awareness campaign, and will distribute more than 10,000 reusable Loving Laredo bags.