Ban on Plastic Bags Left Hanging After Council Committee Hearing

By Ted Cox on June 18, 2013 12:00pm | Updated on June 18, 2013 4:08pm

 Ald. Joe Moreno addresses students from the Academy for Global Citizenship and Audubon School before Tuesday's hearing on a proposed ban on plastic shopping bags.
Ald. Joe Moreno addresses students from the Academy for Global Citizenship and Audubon School before Tuesday's hearing on a proposed ban on plastic shopping bags.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — A City Council committee discussed a ban on plastic shopping bags, but left it hanging Tuesday.

Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) has proposed a complete citywide ban on plastic shopping bags. The ordinance received a hearing before the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection Tuesday, but it did not produce a vote ahead of the next City Council meeting June 26.

Students from the Academy for Global Citizenship and the Audubon School attended the hearing, and Moreno addressed them beforehand, saying he'd push for a vote, but "we have to get more of the aldermen on board."

He urged the students to ask their parents to tell their aldermen to vote for it, adding, "We need to continue to put pressure on them."

According to Moreno, Chicagoans use an average of 500 plastic bags a year, or a total of 3.7 million a day.

"They simply cannot be recycled," he said, referring to the environmental nuisance the bags present.

He dismissed as "brainwashing" retailers' claims that recycling works, but is diminishing because more people are taking advantage of reusable bags.

Tanya Triche, vice president and general counsel of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, maintained bag recycling was dropping because of reusable bags.

"When you give people choices, and they become educated about the effects of their choices, they often change their behavior," Triche said. "Or you can change behavior by taking away people's choices, which is what today's proposal seeks to do."

Triche previously has called the ban "a tax on retailers," since paper bags cost three times as much as plastic ones.

Dan Schnitzer, director of sustainability and operations at the Academy for Global Citizenship, compared the proposed ban to earlier environmental bans on lead in paint and gasoline, which proved beneficial over time.

About 20 students from the Academy for Global Citizenship, 4647 W. 47th St., and about 55 third-graders from Audubon Elementary, 3400 N. Hoyne St., watched the hearing from the gallery, waving small posters in favor of the ban and sometimes clapping.

 Third-graders from the Audubon School urge passage of the plastic bag ban from the City Council gallery.
Third-graders from the Audubon School urge passage of the plastic bag ban from the City Council gallery.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

They were gone, however, by the time the committee took no formal action on the proposed ordinance.

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