Dallas' new bag fee law requires a five-cent fee on all single use bags. Courtesy of city of Dallas.

Jan, 12, 2014

This month, Dallas is blazing a new trail as the city’s new bag fee goes into effect. Dallas is the first city in North Texas to adopt an ordinance intended to curb single use bags, which are considered by many to be a wasteful use of resources, a chronic source of litter and a danger to wildlife.

According the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American family takes home 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.

The Dallas City Council passed the bag fee ordinance in March that requires retailers to charge a 5-cent fee for single-use bags.

The law went into effect on Jan. 1, but many residents still a lot of questions, according to Kevin Lefebvre, senior environmental coordinator for the city of Dallas’ Office of Environmental Quality.

Right, courtesy of GoGreentriCities.org.

“We continue to receive questions and feedback from Dallas residents and retailers,” said Lefebvre. “Some are unsure how the ordinance may apply to them while others are embracing the opportunity to help reduce litter. Also, there have been calls to inquire about what they have heard via word-of-mouth regarding the ordinance asking for clarification.”

Richard Hill, senior public information officer for city of Dallas, said it’s too early to tell whether the law is changing Dallasites’ behavior. 

“Obviously we are encouraging people to bring reusable bags from home, but I don’t have a number in terms of how many people are using reusable bags in Dallas [at the moment].”

Courtesy of SFEnvironment.org

People who do not supply their own reusable bags will be charged a five-cent fee per bag for all single use, carryout bags, both paper or plastic, said Hill. 

“The fee does not apply to non-carryout plastic bags inside the store used for produce, meat, nuts or other bulk items. Also exempt are such items as laundry, dry cleaning or garment bags and biodegradable newspaper bags.”

All retail stores are covered by the ordinance and the only way customer’s can avoid the fee is to bring their own reusable bag from home.

“Fees collected help pay for enforcement and public education,” Hill adds. “Businesses keep 10 percent of the fee to offset administrative costs.”

While cities in Europe have been doing this for some time, domestically it is sporadic where you might find a bag fee incurred in the United States.

Hill says in Texas there are both bag fees and bag bans like in Austin, where the city only allows retailers to offer reusable bags, made of durable materials or that have handles. 

“Other cities that have some type of bag ban include Brownsville, Fort Stockton, Laredo and South Padre Island,” Hill said. 

For questions about Dallas’ new bag ordinance, visit GreenDallas.net

“Those who may be calling with complaints or to report problems, are being helped by the city’s 3-1-1 service where the calls are logged by type and accordingly handled,” said Lefebvre. 

What has been your experience with the new bag fee in Dallas? Leave your comment below.


See a list of other U.S cities that have bag bans. See worldwide bag ban map. 

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