CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he supports a proposed ban on plastic shopping bags but said he is working with aldermen to hammer out the details of a proposed ordinance.
"I support the ordinance in general, but the details do matter here," Emanuel said at an unrelated press conference in Avondale.
The proposed ban was resubmitted to the City Council this month by Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), a longtime advocate for the ban.
The proposed ordinance, which awaits a vote by the health committee, would ban retail stores from using plastic bags.
Emanuel's' words Wednesday were warmer than his response to the idea this past summer, when he said there was "no consensus" and plenty of work left to be done on a ban.
Now Emanuel said he supports Moreno's plan but wants a "balanced approach" that weighs effects on both the environment and small family-owned and big box retail stores in the city.
"Plastic bags have a consequence and cost to all of us .. .from cleanup to garbage haul, and I want a policy that advances our environmental policy," he said.
Emanuel said he does not think any tax on plastic bags is "necessary." The current ordinance does not contain any proposed tax.
But critics of a proposed ban said it would amount to a tax on businesses. Tanya Triche, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, told aldermen at a committee hearing Tuesday that a paper bag costs about 10 cents while a plastic bag costs 3 cents.
At the hearing, Moreno said Chicagoans use about 3 billion plastic grocery bags per year and added efforts to recycle those bags have failed, saying about 1.5 percent of plastic bags get recycled statewide.
The health committee is expected to vote on the ban on April 15.