Chicago Alderman Wants To Ban Plastic Shopping Bags

CHICAGO (CBS) — The days of taking your purchases home in a plastic bag may be numbered in the city of Chicago.

A push is under way to make it illegal for city stores to pack up your goods in those bags, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.

Chicagoans use and throw away an estimated 3 billion plastic bags each year. And they’re not hard to spot being carried by shoppers all over town. Unfortunately, they’re also easy to spot everywhere, after they’ve been used and tossed. There seems to be a bumper crop this fall.

“India has banned them to the point where if you’re caught using them, you go to jail. Now, I’m not proposing that,” 1st Ward Ald. Proco Joe Moreno says

Moreno wants a new ordinance prohibiting big retailers from providing plastic bags to customers. Stores would be fined from $150 to $250 if they did not obey the law.

The billions of bags used in Chicago are not merely eyesores, Moreno argues. To make them takes 12 million barrels of oil each year, and they’re difficult to recycle. Plus, they can clog up the sewer system.

“I went out and talked to the guys that actually do it,” Moreno says. “They pull out hundreds of plastic bags out of our sewers. So, it’s costing the city money.”

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is promising to battle the proposed bag ban.

“Certainly consumers are using them. They obviously want to continue to use them, so we continue to provide them,” spokeswoman Tanya Triche says.

Moreno says if the outright ban doesn’t fly in the Council, he’ll go to Plan B: charging a tax of 10 cents on retailers for every plastic bag they buy. He figures that could bring millions of dollars in revenue to the city and put pressure on stores to stop using the bags.

  • Sanene

    Aldermen would be better advised to use their power to do a better job of fixing potholes and stopping street crime in the city instead of using their power to force their personal opinions on the public. I am a grown woman, I am not a child, and I am not looking for a surrogate parent to control every decision I make, and I, for one, am sick and tired of being treated like a naughty child who must submit to control freaks who think their power entitles them to force their opinions on me and other members of the public. What’s next? Will I be forced to wear chador, a long black robe and cover my face because some power mad alderman has decided that is the way I should dress? Will he be allowed to misuse his power in that way and get away with it? Is that how such things got started in Iran, Afghanistan and other repressive countries, one step at a time?

    I usually carry a cloth shopping bag with me when I go shopping.. But suppose I see a display when I am out and about and want to make an impulse purchase or several impulse purchases? How am I to carry those purchases home if the stores are to be prohibited from giving me something to carry my purchases in? Or will the stores just say “we don’t want you to buy anything here unless you conform to some arbitrary rules some control freak alderman thought up, We don’t need your money or your business?” Well, of course, they are free to make whatever choices they think best to further their business. And, of course, I am free to decide never to shop in such a store that idoesn’t care about me or my shopping convenience. There will always be other places that will be happy to have my business. My money is good everywhere.

    • Ron

      Sanene, I would counter that the alderman IS doing the job you’re saying he should stick to by proposing a ban on these bags. Much of our water and sewer system is Victorian and even with the Big Tunnel we still get flooding in the neighborhoods.The city is paying people to open up our sewers to remove clogs caused by the bags and paying workers to fix collapses that can be caused by a clogged system. Whole countries have either banned these plastic bags or put a tax on them leading to a 90% reduction in their use. And we’re talking countries like Ireland, so if you want people to take you seriously you should stick to your argument about whether fixing potholes is a better use of the city’s time and money rather than saying that the alderman’s suggestion will turn Chicago into Iran or Afghanistan.

      • Valerie

        “…arbitrary rules some control freak alderman thought up”. Really, Sanene? We’re using 12 MILLIION barrels of oil annually to make them and they’re a source of pollution. American’s are wasteful. What’s so horrible with paper or reusable? You’re seriously suggesting this is the first step towards us becoming a country like Iraq? It sounds like you’re the extremist one, not the Alderman.

  • Mike Puffer

    Alderman Moreno should be tossed out of office ASAP. First of all this isssue is out of his jurisdiction and to say it is in his jurisdiction by claiming that the plastic bags cost the city money is nothing but a stretch. This environmentakist should either go work for the EPA or give his aldermanic position to someone who can focus on the issues at hand instead of this nonsense. I don’t live in the first ward but ifif I did I would be looking for a new alderman. Chicago and the rest of the country doesn’t need more ill advised idiots like this breathing in valuable city council air.

    • JW

      Actually, I do live in the 1st Ward, and he’s a tremendously popular alderman here. I’m not sure about this latest proposal, but for the most part he does a good job, and I doubt he’ll be going anywhere soon.

      • mike puffer

        If he is goodd he would be even better if he stopped gulping the kool-aid

    • Roberta Waker

      I totally agree that he should be fired ASAP if plastic bags are his main concern. Maybe people should be FINED for throwing these bags away instead of punishing the people that use and LIKE to use them. We reuse the plastic bags from groceries for certain kinds of trash and they work great. Charging for these bags is a bad idea too and it will encourage shoppers to go outside the city so they won’t have to pay extra for them. A recent study shows that recycling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and we NEED certain items that are considered unrecyclable to help other items decay into the soil. Maybe the alderman should do something about the ILLEGALS that are bankrupting the city, crime that is taking over, and making jobs for people that want to work.

  • Proco Joe Moreno

    Sanene- I can fix potholes and focus on legislation that I think is important. Stores will be able to provide paper bags, like Trader Joe’s.

    Mike- You’re more than welcome to run for office yourself rather than just shouting at your computer screen. If you move to the 1st Ward now, you can run against me in 2015. Good luck!

    Roberta- (see response to Sanena)

    JW- Thanks and stick with me… I’ll show you why it’s important.

  • Mike Puffer

    Alderman Moreno, I don’t know you so maybe i shouldn’t be upset at your plastic bag silliness, maybe I should be mad at CBS for reporting it. As far as me moving to the first ward and running against you be careful of what you wiish for.. lol

  • Rufino Torres

    When is it up to a politician to decide how citizens will carry their purchases home? And when is it up to a politician to decide an end run to create an illegal tax on retailers?

    So Alderman, how will I take my groceries home? In a paper bag which creates environmental problems? In a reusable bag that is made of petroleum products too?

    Furthermore, I might take my car to the store. Are you going to make that a crime too? Oh, you already did. I pay more for gas in your district than anywhere else. This is why the people do not like city hall, Proco.

  • doinok

    What will replace them….paper? We have been there before…..and plastic has saved millions of trees a year.

  • Hatesstupidcomments

    @Rufino Torres, “I pay more for gas in your district than anywhere else.”

    You should probably take that up with the gas stations, a city council member doesn’t control the rates of global oil prices.


    […] Moreno was interviewed for this story for the 10 p.m. broadcast of CBS Chicago news. Read the story […]


    […] Moreno was interviewed for this story for the 10 p.m. broadcast of CBS Chicago news. Read the story […]

  • Doreen Pastore

    Why not use the bags as garbage bags for
    as well as wrapping up bag lunches?
    there could also be more “recycling” garbage cans around as well, for those that want to throw them out.
    In my kitchen I use the bags for recycling paper, plastic and cans etc., and keep it seperate from regular garbage.

  • Florence Kennedy

    Plastic bags are important to people who have dogs and our city’s cleanliness. I am sure that if people had to buy bags to cleanup after their dogs our streets and sidewalks would be a lot dirtier. And if they choose to buy bags for the poop, plastic bags are still being manufactured so what have we accomplished. This is as stupid as the water tax. I bought a gallon of distilled water today for my sleep apnea machine. I paid 10 cents tax. I also bought a plastic bottle of Pepsi — no tax.
    Guess the water companies need better lobbyists.

  • Mon. Show Prep – Impossible Dream Edition «

    […] Alderman Joe Moreno wants to ban plastic bags. What with the city dealing with a massive debt problem and all, wouldn’t you think that there are other issues out there of greater importance? […]

  • AlanG

    How about some objective analysis weighing possible pros & cons. What would be the cons (aka costs) of such a government ban? And what would the actual benefits be? Compare overall cost/benefits of plastic vs. paper bags. Has the alderman provided this information? Does anyone know?

  • Rob

    This conversation reflects the depth and breadth of general misunderstanding there is around the topic of single-use plastics. Let me state the key operator once again: SINGLE-USE plastics. Before posting another ill-informed and out-of-touch comment, I suggest those crying foul over any exemplary effort to reduce or eliminate single-use plastics and their profoundly negative impacts, at least take a few minutes to consider the research. Here are a just a few links:

  • Daniel Cohn

    There are people, not highly paid, who make their living at some stores as baggers. These aldermen are part of the problem when it comes to the problems of the working poor. Consumers should be taught to recycle the bags, but eliminating them would make the job of grocery baggers more difficult. The politicians solution to the economic problems of Chicago has been to allow a large retailer to build more stores in Chicago when studies have consistently shown that this retailer often destroys other businesses and the jobs of many, and this during a time of local, national, and international economic protests which pertain directly to unemployment and a lack of job security and massive social inequality. I agree with the above comments that it is not within the jurisdiction of a city council member to become involved with something that should be a matter of consumer choice. The real problem is that politicians in Chicago and Illinois are too friendly with business interests, and must pay lip service to the idea of government regulation of business to cover up the source of the campaign financing and other economic interests. The kinds of regulations that would protect workers and homeowners and the poor don’t exist in Chicago, a city which recently closed homeless shelters because it couldn’t afford to keep them open.

  • Evanston Weighing Tax On Both Paper And Plastic Shopping Bags « CBS Chicago

    […] Moreno says takes 12 million barrels of oil each year, and they’re difficult to recycle. Furthermo… […]

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