Brian Dale Chicago:
Starting Monday, Chicago’s year-old ban on single-use plastic bags applies to smaller chain stores.
Instead, those stores have been required to provide customers with reusable bags, recyclable paper bags or commercially compostable plastic bags. Permitted reusable bags include thicker plastic ones with handles that can be used at least 125 times.
Now, smaller Chicago chain stores that are 10,000 square feet or less, including some 7-Eleven and gas station convenience stores, must adhere to the ban or face fines ranging from $100 to $500.
Under the ordinance, chain stores are defined as being “three or more stores with common ownership” or part of a franchise. Restaurants and non-chain stores are still allowed to use single-use plastic bags, regardless of their size.
I think that this is a step in the right direction. The intent of the original law passed in 2015 was largely ignored by these retailers when instead of encouraging people to use reusable fabric bags, they simply increased the thickness of the plastic bags they gave out for free. This does not reduce waste or reduce our reliance on plastic. It flies against the intent of the original bill.
Until Chicago restricts the retailers from simply increasing the thickness of the free plastic bags we won't see any improvement in the bags being used and given away.
Already our Alderman Moreno is trying to crackdown on this loophole and I'm confident that Chicago will come around and make the right decision to ban all plastic bags, but its not happening in 2016 unfortunately.
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