Chicago Takes Big Step With Bag Fee in 2017 Budget

As Mayor Rahm and City Hall unveiled their 2017 budget, conspicuous among the new revenue generators is an across-the-board seven cent fee on ALL bags passed out. From Surfrider's perspective, this is a major step in the right direction, improving the existing ordinance tremendously. The new ordinance takes effect January 1.

The existing ordinance, now several years old, put an emphasis on banning plastic bags of a certain thickness (and only in certain types of stores) – targeting single use bags of 7mil thickness (too thin to be recycled). The retailers developed a patchwork response to this, depending on their own idea of a proper work-around, or perhaps honoring the "spirit" of the ordinance. Many simply offered free bags that were THICK enough to pass the restriction – say 25mil. So, despite a "ban", it could be argued that, if measured by mass,  a net positive of plastic was going into landfills/environment/waterways because of this ordinance. 

Bag bans/ordinances have been in play now for over 10 years in many municipalities. And the overwhelming evidence supports FEES – not bans – as the best long term solution to the problem, as consumer behavior gradually tilts toward reusable bags.