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Retailers Warn Of Cost Of Banning Plastic Bags

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Aldermen agree something must be done to limit the number of plastic retail store bags clogging landfills, but they still haven't decided what, exactly, to do about the problem.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st) testified at a Health and Environmental Protection Committee meeting that a proposed ban on plastic bags at Chicago stores is the best idea for protecting the environment.

The measure would prohibit any retailer in the city from providing plastic bags to customers to carry out their purchases. They instead would be required to sell or give out reusable bags to customers.

Aldermen Discuss Proposal To Ban Plastic Bags

However, Illinois Retail Merchants Association vice president Tanya Triche said simply banning plastic bags would cost stores and their customers more money.

"When you raise the cost of doing business here, it makes it very difficult to convince stores to come to certain neighborhoods," she said.

She suggested possibly requiring stores to charge for the bags, to encourage customers to bring their own reusable grocery bags.

"I know what they've done on the West Coast. They've dumped these [plastic bags], and that may have worked out there. That's one solution. There are many solutions that we believe that need to be discussed," she said. "Hopefully we can come together with something comprehensive."

Moreno laid into Triche.

"What we're talking about today started in '08. Your industry has had six years … six years to come up with a comprehensive – your words – solution, and nothing has changed," he said.

Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said he believes it's "high time" to ban plastic bags in Chicago.

"It was high time decades ago," he said.

Aldermen will take up the proposal again at another hearing in mid-April.

A similar, but less stringent, proposal to ban plastic bags stalled in the City Council last year, after Mayor Rahm Emanuel said it needed "a lot of work."

That plan would have applied only to larger retailers – those with more than 5,000 square feet of floor space.

The latest ban would apply to all retailers, regardless of size.

"Target encourages guests and communities to reduce their plastic bag use and works with local governments to comply with all regulations," the company said in a statement. "We encourage our guests to bring in their reusable bags by offering a five-cent reusable bag incentive, and we also offer in-store recycling of plastic bags already in the supply chain."

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