CITY HALL — Aldermen put off a vote on a proposed ban on plastic bags Tuesday as some worked behind the scenes to iron out details.
"Some of the Council members just needed more time," said Anabel Abarca, spokeswoman for Ald. George Cardenas (12th), chairman of the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection, which put off an expected vote on the matter set for Tuesday.
Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), lead sponsor of the proposed ban, said previously, "We're not gonna fall for another stall-scare tactic," but appeared to be working to amend his proposed ordinance ahead of a committee vote on it.
Cardenas and Moreno "don't want to rush it," Abarca said. "They're working with the Mayor's Office. They're just listening closely to the other committee members."
She said the next committee meeting was tentatively set for April 24.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has previously signaled a compromise, saying, "We will get where we need to be on plastic bags," but has been resistant to impose a charge for paper bags, which could be seen as a tax, to defray added costs for merchants.
Tanya Triche, spokeswoman for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, called a bag fee "basically a tax on the retail community," which would certainly be passed on to customers.
Aldermen also have floated the idea of allowing small, independent merchants to continue to distribute plastic bags, but Moreno has said many were opposed to such a loophole.
"The environment in their wards wouldn't change if they were completely exempt," Moreno added.
Triche denied that any retail demands were slowing the process.
"We would actually like to be part of the conversation," she said. "Unfortunately, we've not been asked."
She said retailers seek a "Chicago-centric" solution tailored specifically to the needs and preferences of city shoppers and the way the city disposes of all single-use bags, both paper and plastic, in litter and, ultimately, landfills.
"We would like to see Mayor Emanuel create a task force force to study the issue of single-use bags," Triche said, suggesting it could also be tied to a timeline setting some sort of resolution for next year.
Yet Moreno has opposed any more delays and appears set on pressing a vote, having previously had 47 aldermen sign on to the proposal.