Lanny Holland, city building official, said the committee met 10 times after the City Council established it on July 8 last year.
Chairperson Carl Pickett was one of the members who originally was against an outright ban on the use of plastic shopping bags who eventually changed his mind.
Holland said the committee will ask the council to amend City Ordinance 1992 by adding a new section that will “prohibit the use of plastic bags within the city limits of Beeville and require that use of recyclable paper and/or reusable checkout bags by all shops, stores, eating places and retail food vendors located in the City of Beeville.”
Other members of the committee included Michele Beck, Cindy Dougherty, Marion Williams, Edy Brasfield, Fernando Galvan and Adrian Jackson. Two city staff members, former Litter Abatement Official Kathleen Echevarria and Holland, also attended the meetings.
Several committee members favored banning plastic shopping bags when they were first appointed by the council last year. But some, including Picket and Jackson, were against completely banning them.
Opinions apparently began to change once the members realized how large a problem the bags have become in Beeville and across the nation.
The committee reported seven findings as a result of the study. One of those was that the manufacture of plastic shopping bags requires the use of 12 million barrels of oil a year and that they result in the deaths of thousands of animals which ingest or become tangled in the bags.
Also, most of the bags do not biodegrade but photodegrade. That means they break down into smaller and smaller bits of toxic material instead of disappearing entirely. Then animals mistake the bits for food and eat them.
The bags also act as “sponges” for dangerous toxins in waterways.
Studies have shown that the toxic fragments cause hormone disruption in the fish that eat them and in humans who then eat the fish.
Even when the bags are properly discarded in dumpsters and sanitary landfills, winds can still scatter them across the countryside.
The committee also found that the “Keep Texas Beautiful” and “Great American Trash Off” organizations reported collecting 21 tons of plastic and plastic bags each year during beach cleanup efforts.
In addition to recommending a plastic shopping bag ban within the city, the committee also will urge the council to:
— Develop an ordinance that would require all businesses to provide trash receptacles outside their buildings and to regulate the types of receptacles, the number of them and their locations.
— Adopt an ordinance requiring businesses which have dumpsters to provide or build an enclosure for them.
— Require the police department to take a more active role in litter control by issuing notices of violations for improper disposal of litter.
Committee members considered several possible impacts of a plastic shopping bag ban, including the economic impact on smaller “mom-and-pop” stores. Other concerns included recycling and the impact of litter on storm drains and wildlife.
They considered recommending a voluntary reduction of the use of plastic shopping bags but apparently decided that would not be enough.
The committee also recognized the importance of educating the public about “what it is to be a good steward of our environment and the community.”
Part of the study involved the possible negative impact litter has on economic development and on whether a litter problem discourages people from moving to Beeville.
The report is only a recommendation of the committee. The decision to ban the bags will be up to the City Council.