Council Committee Debates Plastic Bag Ban

Full council to vote on “ban-the-bag” ordinance April 15

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 5 News

    The Chicago City Council will vote next month on an ordinance that would ban retailers from using plastic bags.

    The Commitee on Health and Environmental Protection held a hearing Tuesday to discuss the ordinance sponsored by Alderman Joe Moreno (1st).

    The ordinance, which Moreno claims he has enough votes to pass, will ban small and large city retailers from using plastic bags for sales.

    Supporters claim that 3.7 million plastic bags are used citywide on a daily basis, and an estimated 3 to 5 percent of all of those bags become litter.

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    But opponents believe the ban would put undue strain on retailers and will deter new stores from moving to the city.

    "You can't say we really want you to relocate here, but on the other hand, we're going to raise the cost of doing business here," said Tanya Triche, vice president of the Illinois Merchants Association.

    Last year, a proposal that excluded businesses with less than 5,000 square feet of space was rejected by the mayor.

    Moreno’s version includes retailers of all sizes and does not include a tax on paper bags, despite concerns from the Illinois Merchants Association, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

    The Illinois Retail Merchants Association reportedly claims a 5- or 10-cent tax on paper bags is not only necessary because the bags cost more money for retailers, but it also the only way to “change consumer behavior.”

    But Moreno said the ordinance does not prohibit a retailer from putting a fee on the bags, and noted that alderman can always “revisit” taxing paper bags, the Sun-Times reported.

    Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles currently have bans on plastic bags in place.

    The Council will vote on the ordinance April 15.