Rick Cofer is one of the many Austin residents who supports the bag ban movement. He is a criminal defense attorney in Travis County. He hopes that large retailers will continue not issuing single use plastic bags for free. He is in a better position to understand plastic littering because he served on the board for the Austin Parks and Recreation and the Pease Park Conservancy. The attorney served in the Solid Waste Advisory Commission during the plastic bag development.
The Austin plastic bag ban came into existence following a series of events. In April 2007, The Austin City Council sought to regulate the use of single-use non-compostable plastic bags. The city manager evaluated and recommended strategies for limiting the use of the bags. In the following year, the Austin City Council reached a resolution to cut the plastic bags getting into the waste stream by fifty percent within a year and a half. However, a study revealed that they didn’t achieve the target. The need for banning single-use plastic bags intensified going into 2011 and beyond.
In 2012, the efforts to ban the single-use plastic bags materialized with Austin City Council making the ban official in 2013. Greg Abbot, attorney general, came out to say that plastic bag bans are legal if they are not aimed at “solid waste management”. Lawsuits were initiated to counter the ban on plastic bags. There was a conflict between the state law on solid waste management and the plastic bag ban. In 2016, the ban was declared unlawful, a decision that was opposed by many professionals including Rick Cofer. The Texas Supreme Court upheld the Texas Fourth Court of Appeal’s ruling to declare the ban illegal. The City of Austin was forced to lift the ban.
Spencer Cronk, Austin City Manager, released a statement regarding the effectiveness of the plastic ban. Rick Cofer Law said that the plastic bag nuisance had reduced by 70% for the time it was in effect. Several other organizations and individuals attested to the effectiveness of the ban to reduce plastic bag littering. According to a research, most people wanted the single-use plastic bags away from stores. This means that the Austin residents don’t want the use of the plastic bags to continue being used despite the Supreme Court ruling.
Customers have powers to keep plastic bags away from stores because they can refrain from buying goods from stores that give out the bags. The general feeling in Austin is that plastic bags have no place in today world owing how it contributes to environmental degradation. Activists are out to rally for not use of the plastic bags. Despite the court ruling, the responsible efforts put by citizens are rendering fruits. With the support and guidance of experienced professionals such as Rick Cofer, the war will be won without breaking or bending any law. Rick Cofer is an experienced Austin-based criminal defense attorney whose specialties include drunk driving, juvenile criminal defense, family violence, marijuana charges, expunctions, and jail release.