In a bold move to help clean up their community, Port Aransas’ City Council voted 5-1 yesterday in favor of a plastic bag ban ordinance. A voluntary ban will begin on January 1, 2015, followed by a mandatory ban starting on January 1, 2016.
Port Aransas joins 10 other Texas cities, 2 states and over 20 countries that have decided to regulate plastic shopping bags because of the infrastructure, fiscal and environmental problems that they cause.
The Port Aransas ordinance aims to reduce the number of plastic checkout bags littering the beaches, streets and surrounding waters in the city. Bags used to hold bait, seafood and other raw foods are exempted in the ordinance.
Of all the residents who spoke at Council meetings leading up to vote, perhaps Tony Amos spoke with the most authority. As a prominent researcher at the UT Marine Science Institute and director of the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK), he described the sad experience of finding injured or dead birds and marine animals that have eaten or been entangled in plastic bags.
One change the Council made in the draft ordinance before passage was the removal of a clause allowing compostable plastic bags to be given out in place of disposable ones. Their reasoning was the lack of evidence on whether such bags will degrade when in sand dunes or underwater.
We applaud the Port Aransas Council members and hope that leaders in other Coastal Bend cities will follow their example.