Chicago To Reconsider Plastic Bag Ban

Chicagoans Use An Estimated 3.7 Million Plastic Bags Each Day

City councilors in Chicago could soon vote on a new measure that would ban retailers from distributing single-use plastic bags, according to a legislative leader. Alderman Joe Moreno, who introduced a similar bill that stalled last year, now claims he has enough support for the latest measure to pass. “I’m very confident we have the votes,” Moreno said. “I’m not a very patient guy, but I’ve been patient on this. It’s time to move.”

Moreno’s new bill is even more restrictive than the original, banning plastic bags in both large and small retail shops. The previous proposal gave an exemption to retailers smaller than 5,000 square feet. “We were letting smaller stores off the hook,” said Moreno, “but some aldermen were concerned. They said, ‘All I have is small stores in my ward. If you don’t cover them, my ward is still going look like crap with bags all over the place.’”

Critics of the legislation, including the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), believe a ban would punish retailers. “It’s a hidden tax on retailers when you ban the plastic bag and don’t impose the fee. And when you raise the cost of doing business in a fragile economy, you put jobs and hours worked in jeopardy,” said Tanya Triche, IRMA’s vice president.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel opposed last year’s version of the plastic bag ban, but his office may be more open to a new measure, Chicago-area media have reported. Chicagoans use an estimated 3.7 million plastic bags each day, with at least between 3% becoming litter, Moreno has said. City councilors, locally called aldermen, could vote on the proposal in a matter of weeks.