The Chicago City Council has voted 36-10 to ban plastic bags in most stores next year.
The ban, which has the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, goes into effect for Chicago’s large retailers in August 2015 and one year later for shops smaller than 10,000 square feet. Family-owned stores and restaurants will not be affected.
All major stores will 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.