Chicago just got a little greener. The city approved a ban that will stop grocery stores from offering plastic bags for customers.
The proposal was backed by the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and passed in a 36-10 vote on Wednesday. Despite the overwhelming support, those who opposed the ban were very vocal after the vote about their disappointment.
“The city council has approved an ordinance that will raise the cost of doing business in Chicago and nothing for the environment,” said Tanya Triche, vice president and general counsel of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. ”Driving up expenses for retailers and forcing customers to pay more at the store while not helping the environment flies in the face of the city’s goal to make Chicago one of the nation’s greenest cities and support companies that have invested significantly in Chicago’s neighborhoods.”
But Triche and stores will have some time to adapt to the new rule. The ban will go into effect in August 2015 starting only with grocery stores bigger than 10,000 square feet. A year later, smaller franchises and chains will be added to it and small and independent businesses will not be affected by it. The fine for violating the ban will be between $300 and $500 for each infraction.
It is estimated that today Chicago residents use 3.7 million plastic bags per day when going shopping and three to five percent of those end up in landfills, clogging up drains and recycling machinery. While replacing the plastic bags with paper ones is more expensive for retailers with the latter costing three times the amount of the first, the ban will have a significant impact on the environment taking all that plastic away from the Windy City.
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