DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – It may be that one day soon Dallas shoppers might not hear the question, “Paper or plastic?” when checking out at the supermarket or neighborhood convenience store. Wednesday the city council wrestled with a proposed ban meant to protect the environment.

The proposed ban has been Councilman Dwaine Caraway’s quest for more than a year.  “Because I’ll be pushing for a ban with a fee, I’m listening to my colleagues,” he told the council.

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Caraway claims plastic bag litter is not only a blight on his district, but is a problem throughout the city.  A proposed ordinance that’s taken form the past several months would ban both paper and plastic grocery bags, or look at possibly charging a fee to use them. Money from those would go toward code enforcement or cleanup.  Caraway found some support for the ban among colleagues.   “I think it’s important that we recognize this can work and it can be effective,” Lee Kleinman said.

Environmental activist Zac Trahan of the Texas Coalition for the Environment argued that bag bans have already worked in other parts of the state.  “There are now nine cities in Texas, that ranks us third in the country that have already passed ordinances similar to what Dallas is proposing,” he told CBS 11 News.

But the ban would not cover plastic wrappings on newspapers, dry cleaning, or bags of supplies that charities might give to the disadvantaged.  Gary Huddleston, of Kroger and the Texas Retailers Association, is urging that an emphasis instead be put on recycling.  “We support reusable bags but we don’t believe that the city of Dallas should mandate that the customer has to use a reusable bag in order to take their purchases home.”

Bill Callahan told the council a bag ban would be selective enforcement.  “I feel even if we do ban the bags we still have a bag problem.”  Sheffie Kadane added, “People are calling me telling me don’t do away with them.  ‘We like the plastic bag, they’re easy to carry they’re easier to tote.   And please don’t do away with them.'”

But for all the talk no firm consensus was reached, though many liked a fee.  Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings ordered that a detailed ordinance come back to the council for an up-or-down vote in March.

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