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Aldermen Delay Vote On Plastic Bag Ban

Smaller Retailers Might Be Exempted From Plastic Bag Ban

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Aldermen have put off a vote on an ordinance that would ban Chicago retailers from giving shoppers plastic bags for their goods.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports many aldermen still want to ban the ubiquitous plastic grocery bags they feel are clogging landfills, but some want to exempt small, independent retailers from the ordinance.

A delay in a committee vote originally set for Tuesday has given aldermen time to work that out.

The City Council Committee on Health and Environmental Protection now will vote on a proposal on April 24.

Phil Rozenski – director of sustainability for plastic bag manufacturer Hilex Poly, and policy chair for the American Progressive Bag Alliance – said even a watered-down ordinance would be too harsh.

"We think, whether it's a ban or a tax, regardless of what the scope is, it's bad for the people of Chicago. It's going to drive people out of Chicago when they do their shopping. It's going to drive businesses out of Chicago," he said.

Rozenski acknowledged some cities already have banned plastic grocery bags – including San Francisco and Los Angeles – but he contended those cities haven't seen a reduction in waste, and have seen costs rise for retailers.

"What we do know, plastic bags are less than 1 percent of litter, and they're about 0.6 percent of the waste stream," he said. "As a manufacturer and recycler, we still want to improve those numbers."

He said consumers can and do reuse plastic grocery bags.

"Actually, about 60 to 75 percent of bags are reused at home. People use them as trash bin liners, or for pet waste," he said.

Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel blocked a proposed ban that would have prohibited only large retailers – those with more than 5,000 square feet of floor space – from providing plastic bags to customers for their purchases.

The latest version would apply to all retailers, but sponsors have said they're willing to exempt smaller retailers, or give them more time to comply with the ban.


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