CHICAGO (CBS) — Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) has introduced his ordinance calling for a ban on plastic bags at large retailers in the city.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports from City Hall, Moreno was flanked by several of his colleagues as he explained why he wants to ban plastic bags in stores over 50,000 square feet in size.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

“These bags in the city of Chicago – we use 3 billion – B – billion of these a year,” he said. “They are horrible for our environment. They are terrible for our Streets and Sanitation workers. You talk to any worker – when they clean out a sewer, they’re pulling dozens and hundreds of these bags out.”

San Francisco and Aspen, Colo., already ban plastic bags.

Moreno says only big stores are included in the ordinance because they can better handle the expense, and aldermen don’t want to burden small businesses – yet.

Under the ordinance, stores would be fined $150 to $250 for not complying.

The billions of bags used in Chicago are not merely eyesores, Moreno argues. Besides the litter problem, to make the bags takes 12 million barrels of oil each year, and they’re difficult to recycle.

Moreno said in October 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.

Evanston officials are also weighing a law restricting shopping bags. The north suburban city’s Environmental Board has recommended an ordinance that would require consumers to pay 5 cents for every plastic or paper bag.

Supporters of the fee hope it will encourage consumers to skip the disposable bags and use recyclable bags.

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