Chicago is poised to become the next major U.S. city to enact a ban on single-use plastic bags after a City Council committee vote April 24.
The Health and Environmental Protection Committee voted to approve the ban, which now goes to the full council for consideration next week, where it is expected to be approved. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel supports the ban, which would affect chain and franchise stores, but not independent stores and restaurants. Chain stores are defined as a group of three or more locations with the same owner, and franchise stores of more than 10,000 square feet. Smaller chains and franchises would have another year to phase out the bags.
Chicago's independent stores and restaurants would be exempt. All stores would have to provide or sell reusable bags, recyclable paper bags or compostable plastic bags and have the option of charging for the disposable bags.
Chicago is only the most recent municipality to attempt to enact bag bans. Starting with San Francisco in 2007, more than 70 California cities and counties have since enacted their own patchwork of bag taxes, fees and bans and the state is still vying for the title of first to enact a statewide plastic bag policy. Hawaii has banned the bags at the checkout counter outright. In Canada, meanwhile, Winnipeg has flirted with the idea but shied away from enacting it, and Toronto famously approved and then rejected the idea of a bag ban in 2012.