25 September 2014
Should The Ban on Plastic Bags in Austin be Repealed?
It’s no secret that Austin is a very progressive city, not just when it is compared to the rest of Texas, but to the country. One of the things that come with being a progressive city is a concern for the environment. This concern for the environment has manifested itself in many different ways, most recently with a citywide ban on plastic bags. Like the name suggests, the bag ban has banned the use of plastic bags in stores. Shoppers are now given the option of bringing their own bags, or buying bags from the store itself.
The scope of this social dilemma is unique in that nearly everyone in the City of Austin is affected by this ban. Anyone who shops at Austin area Randall’s or HEB, which is perhaps everyone in this class right now, knows the inconvenience brought on by not being able to package their purchases without either buying as many plastic bags as they need at 20 cents apiece, or bringing their own bags from home.
The ban however does not affect anyone severely, and it can’t be said that any one is truly harmed by this ban, although many find the ban and what it brings to be very annoying, and certainly an inconvenience. Another unique feature of this ban is that no social class unaffected by this ban, every social class has to buy groceries and every grocery store, no matter the location, has to fallow this ban.
The stakeholders in this situation differ in their opinions of this ban. Those against the ban see the ordinance as a waste of taxpayer money as well as doing much more harm than good. Certain groups against the ban also find that the bag ban violates state law as a whole. Those against the bag ban see the inconveniences as too much to bear, often quoting the fact that plastic bags don’t have to be “single use” bags, and can be reused for many different household purposes. Others against the bag ban see the bag ban as something far more severe, they see the ban as the far left dominating the decisions made in Austin. Those who feel this way also feel that the bag ban is an example of the city of Austin promoting a liberal agenda without thinking about the consequences and cost their decisions would have on the city of Austin and its citizens. One study cited the fact that once the bag ban was put into effect in other cities, reports of shoplifting had gone up. Along with shoplifting, opponents of this ban have cited the fact that the ban raises certain health risks that go hand in hand with transporting raw food. Opponents argue that this was not a problem before the bag ban took effect, thanks to the fact that before then bags were completely disposable, not like the reusable ones offered by stores today.
More serious concerns against the bag ban stem from the fact that the bag ban recently was suspected of violating Texas health and safety code provision instituted in 1993 to keep garbage out of Texas landfills. The Texas provision reads that the state can’t“ restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.” This would mean that the bag ban is violating a law currently and would have to be repealed.
The law however, exists only as it is stated, and doesn’t go into any detail on what a package or a container might entail. Those who were involved in putting the law into effect in 1993 have also stated that the law was mainly put in place for reasons that are unrelated to the reasons that would be necessary to remove the Texas bag ban.
Others who see negative sides of the bag bans are the retailers who have to put the bag ban’s rules into place. Not only are retailers forced to comply with the requirements of the bag band, but the stores can also be fined a great deal if they don’t follow the rules. The retailers see this as them being charged for doing business as usual, and that they are suffering because they’re the ones who have to work to enact this ban, not the ones who enact it the ban.
Those in support of the Texas plastic bag ban cite obvious environmental conscious reasons for their support of the ban, as well as a multitude of other reasons that stretch far beyond the environment. The environmental reasons are simple;the bag ban greatly reduces the public consumption of paper bags, which is slowly but surely clearing up in landfills, and other naturally occurring areas where wildlife exists freely, of harmful plastic bags. The bag ban is just one small step forward in the fight against litter and pollution in Austin. Prior to the Austin bag ban the number of Bag consumed and thrown away by citizens of the City of Austin exceeded 263,000,000 bags per year.
Although these obvious environmentally friendly reasons for the bag ban are positive, there are other reasons for the bag ban and its effectiveness that extend beyond the environment. Environmentalist Robin Schneider states that along with the clear environmental benefits, the bag ban is crucial in keeping the “recycling infrastructure” in check. Schneider also states that the bag ban helps regulate both “Storm water and waste water” keeping Austin’s water resources healthy and clean.
For those who are not swayed by the need to protect Austin’s environment and resources, Austin’s ban on paper bags has reportedly saved the city and its taxpayer’s money in the long run. It’s estimated that this ban saves local taxpayers over 25 million dollars per year, that would normally be in place to cover the cost of production of these paper bags, as well to cover the cost of the bags harm to the environment.
The history of the Austin Bag ban can be traced all the way back to 2007, when the city council began to take measures to limit the citywide consumption of non-compostable and non-biodegradable plastic bags. The council worked with organizations such as Keep Austin Beautiful, to launch the “Austin’s got a brand new bag” initiative. The initiative lasted about a year and a half, and introduced many features that would also be seen once the bag ban took place on March 1st, 2013. Some features included stores selling reusable bags to their patrons, and offering ways to recycle obsolete plastic bags already in a patron’s possession.
This initiative paved the way for further social environment projects, most notably the pilot project titled “Recycle the Bag” project. This program included a curbside pickup of plastic bag recycling.This project ran from May 2008 until August of the same year, and was a way to test how effective a plastic bag-recycling program, and by association a plastic bag ban would actually be, should it officially be implemented. The program was not very effective due to lack of participation from the Austin community, and drop of sites for recycling being already available to most.
The Pilot program was ultimately discontinued, but Austin City council was calling for new more invasive ways for the recycling and reduction of non-biodegradable plastic bags. In 2011 the City council put pressure on its staff to put these invasive ways into an ordinance, which would ultimately become the plastic bag ban of 2013.
After the official bag ban ordinance was approved, Austin Resource recovery hosted several sessions in the months leading up to the ban, aimed at educating retailers on how to effectively fallow the bag ban. Finally on march 1st, 2013; the bag band was put into place in Austin Texas, for better or for worse.
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“Austin Bag Ban May Violate State Law, Greg Abbott Says.” Austin News, Sports, Weather, Longhorns. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.
“Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure (ECAD) Ordinance.” Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure (ECAD) Ordinance. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.
Environmental Impacts.” – NTEPA. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2014.
“Law | AustinTexas.gov – The Official Website of the City of Austin.” Law | AustinTexas.gov – The Official Website of the City of Austin.N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2014..
“Municode Library.” Municode Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.
“Nearly Three Months Later, Austin Still Adjusting to Plastic Bag Ban.” KUT. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.
“No Bag for You.” RedState. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.
“Ordinance.” Bringitaustin.com. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.
“Welcome to AustinBagBan.com – Information on What You Need to Know about the Upcoming Bag Ban in Austin Texas.” Austin Bag Ban. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.
PORTER’S AMERICAN DILEMMAS: 2nd SUBMISSION EVALUATION FORM
|1||THE POSITION OF THE PRO AND CON STAKEHOLDERS
(PRO AND CON Stakeholder’s arguments on each side, evidence for each position, values they present for their position)
YOUR CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF ARGUMENTS AND SUPPORTING EVIDENCE OF THE PRO AND CON STAKEHOLDERS
(Strengths and weaknesses for each side’s case, your assessment of the credibility of each side’s evidence plus your analysis using MORAL REASONING – VALUES, OBLIGATIONS, AND CONSEQUENCES)
|3||YOUR TENTATIVE SOLUTION||
Total Score for Content (of a possible 70 points): ____________
Total Score for Form (from reverse side): ____________
Grade for 2nd Submission : ____________
7.5-6.5 EXCELLENT ORGANIZATION: Highly fluent and coherent throughout paper. Clear, forward
moving line of reasoning. All parts of paper tightly cohesive and effectively arranged. Effective
use of paragraphing throughout paper.
6.5-5.5 GOOD ORGANIZATION: On the whole, highly fluent and coherent. Purpose/main idea clear to
reader. A few minor problems with paragraphing/logic or sequencing/cohesion between parts of
5.5-4.5 FAIR ORGANIZATION: Generally fluent and coherent. Purpose/main idea clear to reader.
Several minor problems with paragraphing/logic or sequencing/cohesion between parts of the
4.5 POOR ORGANIZATION: Problems with focus, coherence and/or fluency. Purpose/main idea
sometimes obscured by problems with fluency, or by lapses in logic or sequencing/lack of
cohesion between parts of paper.
7.5-6.5 EXCELLENT FORM: Excellent MLA form throughout paper. Virtually error free.
6.5-5.5 GOOD FORM: Good control of MLA form with the occasional errors probably a result of careless proof-reading.
5.5-4.5 FAIR FORM: Fair control of MLA form, but errors evident throughout paper.
4.5 POOR FORM: Problems with MLA form are severe enough to indicate student lacks an
understanding of, or has an inability to apply MLA.
GRAMMAR, SPELLING AND PUNCTUATION
7.5-6.5 EXCELLENT CONTROL: Excellent control of grammatical conventions, spelling, and punctuation
throughout paper. Virtually error free.
6.5-5.5 GOOD CONTROL: Very good control of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, with the occasional
errors probably a result of careless proof-reading.
5.5-4.5 FAIR CONTROL: Good general control of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, but errors evident
4.5 POOR CONTROL: Problems with grammar, spelling, and punctuation are severe enough to
indicate student lacks good general control of one or more of them.
STYLE AND TONE—Sentence variety, choice of words and phrasing (syntax), and writer’s voice
7.5-6.5 EXCELLENT STYLE/TONE: Throughout paper, excellent control of style and tone; appropriate for audience
6.5-5.5 GOOD STYLE/TONE: With a few exceptions, stylistic choices and tone excellent.
5.5-4.5 FAIR STYLE/TONE: Generally consistent, appropriate style and tone. Several problems with
sentence variety/inappropriate word choices/clichés/redundant language, or minor problems with tone.
4.5 POOR STYLE/TONE: Paper marred by inappropriate tone in parts of paper or consistent problems
with word choice/redundant language/sentence variety.
Total score for form (of a possible 30 points): _______
Adapted from “Essay Evaluation Form,” copyright July 1991 by John A. Perron, Anne Crane, Anna Skinner. Austin, Texas.
Submission Two Instructions
What do I do in Submission Two?
Submission Two (requiring revisions of Submission One, plus 5-6 pages of new text) is profile some specific stakeholders and issues related to your social problem, present and analyze their major arguments, and identify the values that lead them to take these positions. You should devote about ½ to 1 page each to two to four major, representative (see below) stakeholders on the issue, and you should analyze two major stakeholders on each side.
How should it be organized?
Submission Two will continue smoothly from Submission One, and will have three sections (though you may begin with either pro- or con-):
Who are my stakeholders, and what is a “major stakeholder”?
As you know, your “pro-” and “con-” stakeholders are not just general “sides,” but empowered people and groups who answer “yes” or “no” to your normative question. Your major stakeholders should be specific, named groups, persons, or institutions, like Ted Kennedy, Planned Parenthood, the Bush Administration, or Exxon-Mobil. Since your goal in this paper is to help your readers understand this issue as a whole, such your stakeholders should not be exceptional (as when Republican John McCain takes a position more commonly held by Democrats), but representative or typical of important classes of general stakeholders on the issue. They should be active players in the dispute, and have the power to cause (or impede) change on the issue, whether through grassroots organizing, collective action, skillful rhetoric, funding, political or economic clout, or other means.
What new research do I have to do?
It depends on how thorough you decide to be. In Submission One you were required to have cited 8 sources. In Submission Two there is no requirement you find more sources, but by the end of Submission Three you will have to have added at least four more sources since the final requirement is 12 to 15 sources. But those requirements aside, your research should be guided by what you need to be able to describe the stakeholder positions accurately and in depth.
How long should it be? How in-depth should it be?
Again, it depends on your goals for the class. The total required length for Submission Two is, including revisions to Submission One, 10-12 pages, 5-6 of which will be new text. A thorough, “A”-level consideration of one stakeholder’s arguments will require about one page each. You should present and analyze the major arguments that stakeholder makes, and the kind (case study, resarch study, statistic, expert testimony, etc.) and persuasiveness of the evidence they cite.
How do I analyze arguments?
We will be reading a very helpful guide to critical thinking recently written in the Handbook that will help you do this, but essentially, your task will be to weigh arguments, evaluating their strengths and weakness (using comparison, logic, and textual analysis), evaluate and compare the evidence presented, and discuss how the sides’ arguments are consistent with or contradict the professed values of stakeholders.
How do I revise Submission One?
A crucial task of preparing Submission Two will be revising Submission One according to my comments, the comments of your peers in peer review, and in light of the increasing sophistication and understanding you have of your topic as you continue to research and learn about your issue. You will want to focus both on content, and on the writing of your paper, making sure that you address such essay basics as organization, clarity, concision, proofreading, and MLA formatting and citation; you will also need to (using the grading rubric you got back with your commented draft) address the parts of Submission One where you lost points for incomplete research, for inadequate understanding of your topic, for not fully following instructions, or other problems with your topic.
How will Submission Two be graded?
Submission Two will be graded according to a different rubric than we used for Submission One. The first submission’s rubric emphasized writing and essay issues in order to focus your attention on those important aspects of the American Dilemmas research paper. The rubric for Submission Two emphasizes content much more heavily, especially analysis and critical thinking skills, and the attention to values we have emphasized in class assignments and discussions.