THE BLOG

BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance Is Moving...FINALLY

03/14/2014 11:33 am ET | Updated May 14, 2014

Last year, I wrote this in a blog about why plastic bags should be banned in Chicago:

The average person uses 500 single-use disposable plastic bags a year, an average of 1.37 bags per day. This translates to 73,980 plastic bags being used in each of our 50 wards, every day, or 3.7 million plastic bags being used city-wide, every day.

Despite what the proponents of the status-quo would like you to believe, these bags are not "free." Retailers purchase them for roughly two cents each and pass that cost onto customers. If each bag costs 2 cents and 3.7 million bags are used every day in our city, Chicagoans are paying approximately $74,000 a day -- or over $27 MILLION a year -- for these destructive products.

And finally, after two (plus) years, I am extremely pleased to announce that we finally have some positive movement on my ordinance to ban plastic bags in Chicago. The Chicago Sun-Times announced this news last week.

I am very optimistic that we will pass the ban in the next couple of months. During the last few months, I have been working with various people to refine and improve the ordinance. What we have now is actually more comprehensive than before. At the urging of many of my colleagues, representing areas on the south and west sides, the ordinance will no longer provide an exemption for smaller businesses.

2014-03-14-dctaxesplasticbags.jpg

The Health and Environment Committee Chairman, Alderman George Cardenas, is now officially signed on as a co-sponsor. He is a personal friend and his leadership has been critical to finally moving this bill forward. The ordinance will be heard and, most importantly, voted on in that committee on March 25, beginning at 11:30 a.m. in the Council Chambers. As with all committee hearings, it is open to the public and anyone can testify. If you would like to help this effort, please contact my office and we will tell you how.

This is not a perfect bill. Many of the allies we worked with during the last two years advocated for a fee to put on paper bags at the same time as banning plastic. Environmentally, it makes sense, but ultimately, I felt this would be too much change too fast. Additionally, I did not have the sense that this addition would be supported by my colleagues and would ultimately kill the bill. As with all legislation and everything I do, I will not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The opponents of the bill will trot out their standard and trite evil, bad big government Republican talking-points against this "business killing" ordinance. In 2008, the City Council did it their way and compromised on this issue. The last six years have proved their arguments to be unsurprising nonsense. I eagerly look forward to their testimony at the committee hearing on March 25.

It is finally time to rid Chicago of this costly-to-the-taxpayer and incredibly destructive product.