Here Comes the Plastic Bag Debate - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Here Comes the Plastic Bag Debate

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CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) -

City council will once again tackle the problem of plastic grocery bags at this week's meeting.

The latest ordinance will levy a fee on retailers to help the city deal with the cost of cleanup that the bags generate.

The city has yet to decide on either a flat dollar fee per transaction or a per bag fee of a nickel to a quarter.

Just like a field next to a large retailer in Flour Bluff, plastic bags literally, litter the landscape which has prompted a flurry of activity from activists.

Neil McQueen who heads the 'Skip the Plastic' program for the Surf Riders Foundation says; "The bags are everywhere in town. They're on the trees obviously, they're on fence lines they're getting into the water and the bays, they're on the sand dunes here at the beaches."

Tuesday, the council will try to decide whether to levy a flat fee to retailers of a dollar per transaction, or a fee for each bag ranging from 5 to 25 cents.

Larger retailers have complained that the ordinance would add 45 seconds at least to each transaction.

Smaller retailers say it's unfair if they are charged the same as larger retailers.

How do residents feel about the ordinance?

Consumer Jackie Janis says, "I don't think we need any more taxes."

Consumer Richard McDermott says; "If it's going to make the city look better because I'm tired of seeing garbage on the side of the road, I'm for it."

Consumer Phyllis Arnold says; "If I'm charged every time I make a purchase and I see that on my bill, I'm more than likely to bring my own bags."

While a final ordinance is scheduled to go into effect next year, the city is examining other Texas cities where plastic bag bans have already gone into effect like Brownsville and Austin.

Austin tried a voluntary program four years ago before banning the bags and Brownsville has banned the bags altogether.

The problem of plastic bags has been an issue nationwide as the bags are a source of pollution by themselves and hamper solid waste disposal as well as create a problems for sewage treatment and drainage.

But McQueen says he's seeing a slow changeover to reusable bags.

"We're seeing a few more people, not as many as we would like. We are seeing the stores step it up a little bit and make the bags more readily convenient for people to see, to purchase in the stores. And some more reminders for staff and for customers and that's really encouraging."

There will be a workshop on Tuesday where members will listen in to the pro's and con's of per bag fees versus transaction fees.

While some retailers offer reusable cloth bags for free, others charge only a nominal fee.

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