Evanston aldermen to weigh plastic bag ban modeled after Chicago ordinance

Patrick Svitek, Reporter

Evanston aldermen are scheduled Monday night to discuss whether to ban plastic bags, renewing a debate that ended with little consensus more than two and a half years ago.

After Chicago City Council approved a partial ban on plastic bags April 30, some aldermen expressed interest in revisiting the issue in Evanston. About a week later, the Evanston Environment Board threw its support behind the idea, giving city lawyers the go-ahead to draft an ordinance similar to the Chicago one.

“I think when you have a community the size of Chicago your neighbor to the south, and they’ve decided to take a first step, it makes sense for us to piggyback on that first step,” city manager Wally Bobkiewicz told The Daily on Friday. “Is it is as much as some in the community would like to go? Probably not, but there’s momentum now to join with Chicago in doing this versus trying to craft something that’s different.”

The Chicago ordinance gives stores larger than 10,000 square feet until August 2015 to comply or face a $300 to $500 fine per violation. Smaller stores have another year to follow the law, which exempts restaurants and stores that are not part of a chain.

Evanston aldermen considered a number of proposals to deal with the bags in 2011, at one point weighing a 5-cent tax per bag. Critics claimed the tax would hurt small businesses, and the council ultimately shelved the issue.

Evanston aldermen are expected Monday night to hear a presentation on the issue from Catherine Hurley, the city’s sustainable programs coordinator, and decide how to gather community input. City staff is proposing a public meeting on the issue at 7 p.m. June 5 at the Ecology Center, 2024 N. McCormick Blvd.

If all goes according to the city’s plan, the Evanston ban would be phased in starting next year like the Chicago one.

“One part would start next year, one part would start in ’16,” Bobkiewicz told The Daily. “So Monday night will be the first discussion of that.”

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