The city of Austin announced Tuesday it will no longer enforce its ban on plastic bags after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a similar ban in Laredo violated state law, KUT reported last week.
"Following the recent ruling from the Texas Supreme Court, the City will not enforce our current rules," a spokesperson for the city said in an emailed statement. "While it’s disappointing that the City is losing a tool to help protect the environment, we are also confident that the Austin community will continue to do their best to minimize plastic bag waste."
The change affects stores in the Lakeline Mall shopping district, which are all inside Austin's city limits. The H-E-B Plus! at Lakeline Boulevard and 183A as well as the Parkline and Walden Park retail developments at the intersection of 183A and SH 45 are also affected, as well as retail establishments in the Four Points area.
The court ruled unanimously on June 22 that a state law on solid waste disposal pre-empted Laredo's local ordinance, resolving a long-standing question over whether local governments are allowed to impose such bans.
Cities including Fort Stockton, Port Aransas and Brownsville had implemented similar bans in recent years, and the court's decision held that those bans are unenforceable as well. The ruling drew applause from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and criticism from environmental groups.
On Monday, Paxton sent letters to 11 cities across the state with plastic bag bans as a reminder that such those ordinances are now "illegal” and “unenforceable.”
“Municipalities ignoring this law are unlawfully passing their duty to manage solid waste on to their residents and retailers in violation of settled Texas law,” Paxton wrote in letters to Port Aransas and Brownsville, among others. “A dislike of state law is no justification for a municipality to violate it.”