The sponsors of a long-stalled ordinance in Chicago that would ban retailers from using plastic bags said on Friday that it might be heading for a vote.
Ald. Joe Moreno said he believe he has the votes needed to win full city council approval of the ordinance that would prohibit retailers with more than 5,000 square feet of floor space from putting merchandise in plastic bags. Twenty-six votes are needed to win full council approval.
An exemption for small retailers that had been a part of an earlier bill was dropped.
“We were letting smaller stores off the hook,” Moreno told the Chicago Tribune. He is a co-sponsor of the bill along with Ald. Chairman George Cardenas. “But some alderman were concerned. They said, ‘All I have is small stores in my ward. If you don’t cover them, my ward is still gonna look like crap with bags all over the place.’”
Moreno said he was confident that he has the votes to pass the ban in the Chicago City Council.
In the same story, Cardenas said he was initially worried about negative economic impact of banning plastic bags, but has been reassured by officials in cities with similar prohibitions that the impact was “doable.”
In a media statement, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association said banning plastic bags is tantamount to levying a “tax on retailers” because paper bags cost three times as much as plastic. Prohibiting the less expensive bags would stifle effort by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fill the city’s food deserts, said the organization.
Last year, Emanuel opposed the earlier version of the plastic bag ban, which exempted small retailers.
In this new version of the ordinance, small retailers may get an unspecified amount of time to come into compliance with the ban, perhaps up to three years.
Read more: Calif. retailers cope with bag restrictions
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