Plastic bags could be a thing of the past at Galveston grocery and retail stores.

During a workshop discussion, council debated the pros and cons of banning plastic bags. Galveston residents debated the pros and cons of the proposed ordinance Thursday afternoon in council chambers.

“According to one study by the Austin Resource Recovery, the impact has been $23 million annually with lost economic opportunities or costs in just the Austin area,” Stephan Cook said.

Austin banned the distribution of plastic bags in 2013.

Jeff Seinsheimer is a chairman for the Galveston Surf Rider Foundation.

“Worldwide, plastic bags are an epidemic,” Seinsheimer said. “I affectionately refer to them as the modern day Texas tumbleweed. Sea turtles look at a plastic bag as a jelly fish, and that’s one of their main sources of food, so we could stop that.”

If it’s passed, a voluntary ban would start Jan. 1, 2017. The mandatory ban would start in 2018. The penalty for violating the potential ordinance is $500 per day.

Galveston Mayor, James Yarbrough, believes council will vote on the ban in December.