CHICAGO — Like plastic shopping bags themselves, the bid to ban them in Chicago is "not going away," says the proposal's lead sponsor.
"The core of this is to remove plastic bags from our everyday life," said Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) Friday, after his proposed ordinance to ban plastic bags received a tepid response earlier in the week from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Moreno's ordinance would ban plastic shopping bags and require merchants to provide reusable bags. It was warmly received in the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection last week, although Ald. George Cardenas (12th), committee chairman, did not put it to a vote.
Moreno said it has enough support to clear committee and is backed by more than 30 aldermen, a majority of the City Council. "The chairman's committed to a vote on it," Moreno said.
Yet Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th), Emanuel's council floor leader, was dismissive of the ban last week, and Emanuel followed that by saying, "There's a lot that has to be worked through, and there's not a consensus yet."
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association has argued against the ban, saying it constitutes a "tax" in that paper and reusable bags cost more than plastic, a cost that most likely would be passed on to the consumer.
Moreno said Friday he's willing to phase the ban in over time and make other alterations in the proposed ordinance. "I'm more than happy to work with the administration," Moreno said. "But if this is just a stalling action, I'm not interested in that and, more important, our constituents aren't interested in that."
Moreno emphasized the ban has been in the works for over a year. "This isn't something we came up with 30 days ago and we're asking to ram through the council," Moreno added. "We've taken our time on this.
"It's not going away," Moreno said. "There's no doubt in my mind it's something that should be done and can be done."