Austin Bags The Bags

City to decide penalties next

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    The Austin City Council has passed one of the broadest bag bans in the country, but still must determine penalties for refusing to comply with the law. 

    The Austin American-Statesman reports that the law, which goes into effect March 2013, will prohibit retailers from offering single-use paper and plastic bags at all retail checkout counters.

    Penalties will be worked out later. A spokeswoman for the city's trash and recycling department said only retailers, not customers, will face penalties.

    Austin is the first big Texas city to pass a bag ban. More than two dozen U.S. cities have bag laws, most of them prohibiting plastic bags and imposing a fee on paper. 

    The city plans to do a $2 million campaign to remind shoppers to bring reusable bags.