Those of you in the Chicago metropolitan area have probably heard about the proposed ban on retail plastic bags in the City of Chicago.
Here’s what we know about the proposed ban so far:
What Businesses are Affected?
In its current form, the ordinance would affect all retail operations in Chicago including restaurants. When it was first proposed in June 2013 the ordinance would have exempted stores with less than 5,000 square feet of space. The new ordinance includes these stores. However, Mayor Emanuel has expressed concern about including small retailers in the ban so we’ll just have to wait and see what the City Council comes up with for a final draft.
What Products are Banned?
- Any bag made predominantly of plastic derived from petroleum or a biologically based source, such as corn or other plant sources. The ban also applies to compostable plastic bags and plastic bags with degradable additives.
- Paper bags that are not ‘100% recyclable’. I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure what this means. I know that the traditional twisted handle paper shopping bag and the standard paper grocery bag are 100% recyclable. But what about a die cut handle recycled paper bag with a plastic reinforcement around the die cut? This type of bag is used extensively in the restaurant carry out business. Or how about a euro-style paper bag made from recycled paper but with a plastic film laminate? Recyclers these days are able to remove a tremendous amount of contaminants in the recycling stream. Are they able to remove the film laminate? We’ll do some more research and see what we can find out for you.
What Products Will Retailers Be Allowed to Use?
- Paper bags that are made from at least 40% post consumer recycled material and that can be recycled.
- Plastic ‘produce’ or ‘product’ bags. Here’s the city’s definition—‘ …any bag without handles used exclusively to carry produce, meats or other food items to the point of sale inside at store or to prevent such food items from coming into direct contact with other food items’.
- ‘Reusable’ bags.
Will Retailers Be Required to Charge a Fee for the Recycled Paper Bags They Give Out?
As it stands now, the answer is ‘no’. That would make the Chicago plastic bag ban unique among the major cities in the country that have instituted bag bans.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is lobbying the City Council hard to have $.05-$.10 fee for paper bags included in the ordinance.
The reality is that during an election year, Chicago alderman and the mayor are reluctant to pass any legislation that might look like a tax. We’ll keep you posted on where this ends up.
When Would the Ordinance Go into Effect?
At the moment, the City Council is planning to bring this ordinance up for a vote on 4/15. The Alderman sponsoring the ordinance says he’s willing to give stores with $50 million plus in revenues 8 to 10 months to comply and that smaller stores might be given up to 16 months after the passage of the legislation.
We’ll Keep You Posted
We’ll update you with our blog posts as new developments occur in this situation.