The lead proponent of a proposal to ban plastic bags in Chicago says he has enough support for his legislation to become law.
Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno (1st) told the Chicago Sun-Times his plastic bag crackdown has the 26 votes of support lined up that it needs to become law -- despite the current proposal being even broader and more strict than the version that stalled last summer.
"I’m very confident we have the votes," Moreno told the paper. "We’ve been kicking this around for years. I’m not a very patient guy, but I’ve been patient on this. It’s time to move.”
The previous proposal excluded retailer establishments smaller than 5,000 square feet from being required to only offer reusable shopping bags to customers, but the updated proposal now includes those smaller retailers as well, the Associated Press notes.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association has previously opposed a plastic bag ban in Chicago, describing it in a 2013 letter addressed to the City Council as "tantamount to a tax on grocers" that would ultimately saddle consumers with higher prices.
For his part, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has remained "neutral" on the proposal's previous incarnations and Chicago isn't the sort of city where any proposal becomes law without the mayor's backing.
The mayor's office said in an emailed statement to the Sun-Times they "have not yet reviewed this proposed ordinance, but share Ald. Moreno's commitment to ensuring a cleaner Chicago."
Moreno has previously reported an estimated 3.7 million plastic bags are being used citywide daily and that between 3 and 5 percent of them become litter, getting stuck in drains causing flooding, clogging landfills and jamming recycling machinery.
Meanwhile, in California, where cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco have already banned the bag, a push for a statewide ban is underway. Hawaii already instituted the nation's first statewide ban of plastic bags available at checkout counters.