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Evanston Considers Banning Disposable Bags

By Prescott Carlson in News on Apr 27, 2011 8:40PM

Photo by agit-prop
While many cities and villages across the country are mulling over banning those pesky plastic bags that frequently become litter, the city of Evanston wants to take things one step further and ban paper bags as well.

Evanston Ald. Ann Rainey expressed her "hate" for plastic bags at a recent City Council meeting, adding that she would do "whatever it takes" to get plastic and paper bags out of the city, according to the Chicago Tribune. A current proposal by fellow Alderman Coleen Burrus would put a 5-cent tax on plastic and paper bags, and a business that does not collect and remit the tax face fines and revocation of its business license. Half of the tax revenue collected would go into a fund with the purpose of raising awareness about the use of disposable bags and the affect they have on the environment.

But the tax would generally only apply to the bags used at checkout -- the clear plastic bags used for produce or bulk items, as well as the bags often provided at the meat department would be exempt, as well as a number of other bag classifications such as the ones used by dry cleaners.

That's why Rainey wants to get rid of the bags entirely, even though she's "uncertain how the ban would work," but suggested that Evanston retailers would be given up to 18 months to "phase out" the use of disposable bags. She also said that the city should look to San Francisco, which banned plastic bags in 2007, for "guidelines on implementing a prohibition." San Francisco, however, enforces a ban on plastic checkout bags only.

Ald. Don Wilson was quoted as saying he has "strong reservations" about an outright ban, and that he doesn't "know that the whole thing has been explored as much as it needs to be."