Austin Leaders Approve Disposable Bag Ban

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Austin City Council approved a ban on disposable plastic and paper bags at checkout counters for retailers.

The ban approved early Friday takes effect March 2013. Reusable bags that are allowed include those made of cloth, durable materials or thicker paper and plastic bags with handles.

The ban has exemptions, including single-use bags for newspapers, bulk foods and carry-out items from restaurants.

Charitable groups relying on single-use bags to distribute food and other assistance are also exempt. Supporters of the disposable bag ban raised trash and other environmental concerns.

Leaders of the Texas Retailers Association and other critics said they fear the bag ban will affect business.

Austin city officials plan to spend $2 million on an education campaign about the ban.