The Chicago City Council will consider a proposal this week that calls for prohibiting chain and franchise stores in the city from providing customers with plastic bags. If enacted, a ban could spark opportunities for increased sales of reusable branded bags in America’s third most populous city.
Last week, Chicago City Council’s Health and Environmental Protection Committee voted in favor of the plastic bag prohibition. The decision cleared the way for the full council to start debating the pros and cons of the proposal at its Wednesday meeting.
Calling a crackdown on plastic bags a win for the environment, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he supports the ban. “It's part of an overall strategy to improve the quality of life in our city and give our children and our families a better shot at a better future,” he said at a news conference.
Under the proposed legislation, independent stores and restaurants could continue to use plastic bags, but chains and franchises would be barred from giving them out unless they were a type of plastic bag that can be composted at commercial facilities. Significantly for ad specialty companies, stores would have to provide or sell reusable bags or recyclable paper bags.
Retailers would also have the option of charging for paper or compostable plastic bags. Fees of 5 or 10 cents per bag have been instituted in California municipalities where bans have been put in place, and New York City recently proposed a measure that would include a fee on bags given out by retailers and street vendors. Proponents of the Chicago measure aim to see it enacted by the summer of 2015.