Dallas bag ban has unintended consequences, retailers say

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on March 27, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 27 at 10:48 PM

DALLAS -– For retailers, the city's new bag ban isn't as simple as it sounds.

"I'd say there's a lot of unanswered questions on the ordinance," said Gary Huddleston, director of consumer affairs for Kroger.

Huddleston and other businesses are looking at the fine print of Dallas' new bag ban and calculating costs to comply.

"We've got a real concern with this new ordinance that charges a nickel per paper and plastic bag that customers may go into our [recycle] barrels to take out plastic bags to re-use them," he said.

So when the new law goes into effect on January 1, 2015, Huddleston said Kroger will remove recycle bins at its eight stores in the city of Dallas.

In addition, the new ordinance forces Kroger and other retailers to add signs, reprogram cash registers to account for the bags, train staff, and even reprint all of their bags to include their thickness on them.

Plus, retailers worry check-out lines could get longer, since bags have to be added to your bill before you pay.

That said, businesses do get to keep a half cent for every bag they sell.

"If the 10 percent that we're keeping as [an] administrative fee does not cover the cost - yes, that's the cost of doing business," Huddleston said. "So either Kroger absorbs it for competitive reasons, or we pass it on to the customer."

The city of Dallas talked about an outright bag ban for more than a year. But the idea of charging customers for bags didn't come up until last Friday, just days before the vote was taken. Huddleston said that 's what bothers retailers most -- the fact they had little time to offer any input.

The Texas Retailers Association plans to discuss how to respond, if at all, at its regularly scheduled meeting in San Antonio next week.

The city released the final wording on the bag ban ordinance on Thursday which will require people to pay five cents for carryout bags beginning next year. A divided city council approved it narrowly in a vote of 8-to-6 on Wednesday.

The ordinance is designed to reduce litter, improve property values, and the city’s appearance to visitors.

Beginning January 1, 2015, customers will have to pay a nickel per carry out bag – whether paper or plastic – from retailers who are registered with the city.

What’s included:

According to the ordinance: “CARRYOUT BAG means a bag provided by a business establishment to a customer, typically, at the point of sale, for the purpose of transporting purchases.”

Plastic is never stipulated in the ordinance’s definition, so paper is included, as well.

What’s excluded:

  • Laundry, dry cleaning, or garment bags.
  • Door hangers often used by solicitors, bags used for garbage, pet waste, or yard waste.
  • Recyclable paper bags from pharmacists, veterinarians, or restaurants.
  • Produce bags or ones used to wrap fish, meat, flowers, or plants – ones provided to hold “bulk items.”


Dallas is dedicating five employees and spending $250,000 to get the bag ban underway over the next eight months. Next year, when the ordinance takes effect, 16 city workers will be assigned to it.

Retailers who register with Dallas can sell plastic bags to customers for $0.05. The business must list that charge “on the customer’s transaction receipt detailing the number of single-use carryout bags provided to the customer.”

Where does the money go?

Paying for the costs of the program, litter clean-up, and environmental education.

Retailers are still assessing how much the new ordinance will cost.

Anyone violating the new ordinance at the first of the year could face a fine of up to $500.

Read the entire 13-page ordinance below:

City of Dallas Plastic Bags Ordinance

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