Recycling plastic bags is an issue that usually doesn’t upset environmental groups or even municipalities, especially when landfills and roadsides are littered with the recyclable material. Last week in Illinois, however, environmentalists and local governments raised objections to a bill passed by legislators that would hold plastic bag manufacturers accountable for increasing the amount of their product recycled by the public. The plan calls for the manufacturers to establish collection and recycling programs, pay fees, and register with the state. This seems harmless enough and in fact good for the well-being of Illinois, but the bill also prohibits municipalities from regulating the use of plastic bags in their own communities, whether through taxation or a ban (excluding Chicago). Many disagree with this portion of the plan, especially considering that several West Coast cities have recently implemented bans on plastic bags to cut down on the waste that occurs not only though litter, but also through the fossil fuels used to make the bags. The sponsors of the bill, however, claim that the new recycling program would have a greater impact than efforts elsewhere.
The plan is currently awaiting approval from Gov. Pat Quinn. It is not yet apparent whether he intends to sign the bill or veto it.
What do you think of the plastic bag legislation? Is tying the hands of government a viable solution to wasted plastic bags, or will the impact of the plan be minimal?
Proposal would recycle plastic bags, not ban them (Chicago Tribune)