Evanston Weighing Tax On Both Paper And Plastic Shopping Bags

Updated 10/24/11 – 5:01 p.m.

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EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — Residents in Evanston are one step closer to living in the first community in Illinois that will charge for paper or plastic bags at the grocery and other stores.

As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, the Evanston Environmental Board has recommended that the Evanston City Council adopt an ordinance that would have consumers paying 5 cents for every plastic or paper bag.

The debate over whether Evanston residents should pay for disposable bags has been going on for months.

Members of the Environmental Board said they’ve reviewed public comments, talked to retailers and recyclers, and they believe the bag fee can work.

Not everyone agrees.

Louise Kent, headed home with five bags of groceries on Monday after spending more than $50 on the groceries. In the near future, she might have to tack on another quarter to pay for the bags.

“I’m not going to do that,” Kent shouted when asked about the proposed fee for bags. “That’s ridiculous.”

Kent was among those hoping the Evanston City Council won’t adopt an ordinance charging residents a 5-cent fee for every bag they accept from any retailer in the northern suburb.

“It’s just adding more money to our food bill, which is absolutely out of sight,” said Kent.

Supporters of the fee were hoping it would encourage consumers to skip the disposable bags and use recyclable bags.

“Who goes around with bags?” asked Evanston resident Jocelyn Davis. “I would probably end up paying the five cents.”

“I will bring my own bag, rather than pay,” said Evanston resident Ron Davis.

Environmentalists were just hoping to see less plastic trash on the streets and the landfills.

“These are things that typically don’t deteriorate,” said Ron Fleckman, President of Citizens’ Greener Evanston.

“I don’t feel as though that’s very supportive of small businesses,” said Monica Williams, owner of Hand Me Down, a children’s store in Evanston.

“I’m not computerized, so I’d have to have a manual way of keeping track of how many bags we sold, which is another piece of work in an already busy day,” Williams said.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Evanston 4th Ward Ald. Don Wilson.

Wilson said he intends to vote against the proposal.

“What we have to do is educate people and change the mindset; change the way people think about things and not to throw them away,” said Wilson

A spokeswoman for Jewel grocery stores said the chain will “follow the local ordinance.”

Dominick’s chose not to comment at this point and the representatives of Whole Foods said the company does not use plastic bags and that all of their paper bags are made from recycled material.

The Evanston City Council will discuss the proposed ordinance at its meeting at 7:15 p.m. Monday. No vote was scheduled for Monday, but the public will be allowed to comment.

A bag ban has also been suggested in Chicago, but only affecting plastic bags. Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) is seeking an ordinance prohibiting big retailers from providing plastic bags to customers, and fining stores from $150 to $250 if they did not obey the law.

Moreno says takes 12 million barrels of oil each year, and they’re difficult to recycle. Furthermore, they can clog up the sewer system.

Moreno says if the outright ban doesn’t fly in the Chicago City Council, he’ll go to Plan B: charging a tax of 10 cents on retailers for every plastic bag they buy.

  • Tifaney

    I think this is an outrageous idea and I don’t even live in Evanston. Some people are already having a hard enough time with money to buy groceries. Now they want to charge them for the bags to carry their groceries home as well? At that point, you’re cutting into their actual food money!!!

    • Roberta Waker

      I totally agree; we are being taxed enough. If they want to charge for bags, I will shop where they don’t charge for bags or box my groceries. What a stupid law!!! NO MORE TAXES!!!

  • southsidesam

    I have no problem if the entire state did this only if they gave you the money back if you returned the bag.

    The same thing with water-bottles, they should be a tax on them so that people recycle them instead of throwing them in the trash. Add a .05 tax, but get it back when you return the bottles.

  • Cameron

    Evanston businesses should look at other alternatives such as this company, http://www.theplasticbagsolution.com . They disitribute compostable bags at no cost to restaurants and retailers instead of your plastic thank you bags. These bags are used as an advertising medium to local businesses.

  • Deb Styer

    yet another instance of the United States being way behind Europe…this is already done in many cities in Europe. People will NOT change their ways here unless it is related to money. It’s not difficult to carry non-disposable bags with you and it DOES save the environment.

  • Susan Mackett

    We just returned from a trip to Ireland, and noticed how exceptionally clean the country seems to be and – no plastic bags stuck on trees and shrubs! We asked our tour guide, and he told us that some time ago, they (whoever that is!) decided the bags are unsightly and decided to levy a fee to merchants when they chose to purchase the plastic bags, which was then passed on to consumers. Voila!! No unsightly bags marring the delightful countryside!!

    • DAN


    • Roberta Waker

      What do they use to pick up dog poop or don’t they pick it up? Talking about an exceptionally clean area; have you ever been to Disney World? Cleanest place on earth. . . and they DO have plastic bags.

  • DAN


    • Yudont Kneadit

      RIGHT ON!!!

    • Roberta Waker

      Amen. Nothing gets the message across better than losing money because of some stupid tax we don’t need.

  • Bill - LaGrange

    Good move by Evanston. Easy solution – just stop the waste and bring a bag. All retailers encourage recyclable bags. Next step – eliminate drive thru’s and reduce pollution from cars idling.

    • Yudont Kneadit

      That would be “heaven on earth!

  • Yudont Kneadit

    What my City Council is considering this evening is but the latest absurd “Ordinance” throughout my 57 years of life here! Chicago and Ald. Moreno have the PROPER idea – either place an outright ban or CHARGE the retailers for their use. After all, there’s still the “good ol’ paper” alternative available for free; and then if they still need the income we can b uy more food and the stores can “pay the Piper”.

    • tifaney

      I agree…just have the retailers stop offering the plastic bags and if THEY don’t stop offering them, make THEM pay the extra for the bags. That cost shouldn’t be passed on to the consumers. Its hard enough out here as it is!

  • Kiara McGee

    I don’t think that taxing on bags is necessary. Why can’t they sell reusable bags and take them back to the store it would be better for the environment. You don’t have to worry about carrying the reusable bags around just keep them in your car and when you need them, you take them with you when you walk into the store. It’s as simple as that.

    • tifaney

      GREAT IDEA!!!

  • Glad I don't live in Evanston

    Here’s a thought, have the stores pay the consumer for bringing bags back, to their recycle bins. Charging customers will only drive them across city limits, to avoid this tax. Bye, bye Evanston stores who provide their customers with plastic bags.

    The evnvironmental committee should look outside the box, and not follow what other cities are doing, creating another tax, in this awful economy of the last 5 years.

  • Amy

    I imagine stores should weigh in more, I might just shop outside of Evanston. This isn’t about education as much as more revenue.

  • Marcia

    Concern for the enviornment is very important, however concern for the already financially stressed consumer should be equally important. It saddens me that the politicians voted into office do not take a stand for the people who put them in office. It was not the environment that put them in office. Does every service that the people need and use be increased at this time? (From city level to state level ). We really could use someone to really care.

  • Victor Fox

    If the city or state needs more money and if they really want it without looking stupid! They need to forget the ideal of nickle and diming families that are trying to feed their families and go after companies that deserve to be fined such as potato chip companies thattry to fool the public with a big bag of so called chips when in fact you open the bag to find that it is only filled a 1/4 of the way with potato chips. Not only are the decieving the public but they are a big cause for the contamination of the landfills. If they put the chips in a bag that is at least half the size (which would still be too big) it would be the greenest thing to do. Why don’t you news people make this a story for all those potato chip companies to watch and give them something to chew on. Go after these kind of companies for the money the state and cities need. Obviously, they have the extra money to throw around for over sized bags. You would think a company would try and save money on the overhead. But, I think they are saving money by giving more plastic and less potato. I only wished there was some nutritional value in plastic. It could solve world hunger.

  • Roberta Waker

    Simple solution – don’t buy more than you can put in your pockets or purse. Maybe they will get the message when grocery sales drop by 70% or more. I happen to like plastic bags and reuse them for certain types of trash as do people that walk their dogs. There aren’t too many people that are going to carry cloth bags around everytime they go to the grocery store. Maybe we should be more concerned about saving people than the environment.

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/10/25/debate-continues-over-proposed-evanston-shopping-bag-tax/ Debate Continues Over Proposed Evanston Shopping Bag Tax « CBS Chicago

    […] As WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports, the proposal calls for consumers to pay 5 cents for every plastic or paper shopping bag. The Evanston Environmental Board has recommended that the Evanston City Council adopt the ordinance. […]

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/11/02/ald-moreno-introduces-ordinance-to-ban-plastic-bags/ Ald. Moreno Introduces Ordinance To Ban Plastic Bags « CBS Chicago

    […] Supporters of the fee hope it will encourage consumers to skip the disposable bags and use recyclabl… Share this No comments // […]

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