After several years of starts and stops, an important step was taken in Chicago as the city's aldermen, led by Ald. Joe Moreno, voted to institute a ban (effective Aug 2015, for smaller chains Aug 2016) on single-use plastic bags. The language in the ordinance exempts restaurants, and retail stores with two or fewer locations and less than 10,000 sq. ft. Affected stores will be required to provide reusable or recyclable bags.
So … in 25 words or less, we simply swap free plastic for free paper. This makes for a very tepid victory in the overall Rise Above Plastics campaign of Surfrider's, since it does nothing to reduce the mindless, mounting single-use waste, and nothing to incentivize consumer behavior toward reusable shopping bags (the way a per-bag fee would). The Chicago Chapter will take this for what it is: Phase One of the campaign to bring this city up to the level of other cities globally that are banning plastic and instituting fees on paper and promoting reusable. We will remain patiently vigilant and activated on this issue going forward. More work to be done.