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Mayor: Proposed Ban On Plastic Bags Needs ‘A Lot Of Work’

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Plastic Bag (Credit: CBS)

Plastic Bag (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel said a proposed ordinance to ban plastic shopping bags in Chicago stores must be changed before a vote by the full City Council.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports aldermen won’t vote on the measure at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Environmentalists and other groups say plastic shopping bags clog landfills, and litter streets; but retailers say banning them in favor of more expensive alternatives could raise the price of food and other goods.

The mayor said the idea needs more work before aldermen vote.

“We’re going to be working with a number of them to come up with the right model that makes sure that we, as a city, make the necessary changes,” he said. “I’m not sure that the proposal out there meets all of that, and I think we have a lot of work yet ahead of us to do that, and do it in a proper way.”

The proposal by Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st) would require all stores in the city to provide customers with reusable bags instead of the standard plastic bags. While reusable bags could be made of plastic, they would have to be much thicker than traditional plastic grocery bags.

All reusable bags provided by stores would have to be designed to be used at least 125 times, be large enough to carry at least 22 pounds, be machine washable or made from material that can be cleaned or disinfected, and have a label or permanent tag with the manufacturer’s name.

Stores would be allowed to charge customers for reusable bags. Customers also would be allowed to bring in bags of their own, rather than using the bags provided by the store.

If the measure were approved, the ban would go into effect four months later, and stores that continue to use plastic grocery bags would face fines of $150 to $250 for each violation. Those that don’t provide reusable bags would fines of $50 to $150 for each day they are found in violation.

Supporters of a ban on plastic bags have said biodegradable shopping bags would be a viable alternative that wouldn’t cost much more money.

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