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Bag Check: City Council Weighs Recycling Measures

By Margaret Lyons in News on Feb 5, 2008 3:54PM

Pantagrapher has it in the bag

Surprise, surprise: Chicago will not be banning retail stores from distributing plastic bags anytime soon, but steps are being taken to institute a plastic bag recycling program. According to the Sun-Times, Alderman Ed Burke from the 14th Ward proposed a "San Francisco-style ban on non-compostable plastic bags" last May, but he was ultimately forced to compromise. Now, Burke is joining Economic Development Committee Chairman Marge Laurino from the 39th Ward in proposing a much softer ordinance that instead of banning bags creates bag recycling options.

The proposed ordinance would require "stores with at least 5,000 square feet of retail space or more than five locations to install plastic bag recycling bins in a 'visible, easily accessible' location and to collect and recycle those bags." The City Council's Environment Committee did discuss plastic bag recycling on Monday, and they listened to pleas from local retail associations to rethink the proposed ordinance. It seems likely that the ordinance will be even more watered-down by the time it's passed into law.

Chicago isn't the only city that's leery of following the drastic measures of San Francisco and Ireland – the New York city council also flirted with stiff regulation of plastic bags, but later compromised in similar fashion, and now New York only requires big stores that hand out the bags to take them back and recycle them. At least we got that "Green Alley Initiative" thing going for us, right?—Mark Boyer