Some speakers expressed surprise Monday night that the city was moving forward on an ordinance enacting a ban on disposable plastic shopping bags for chain and franchise stores, saying much more discussion is needed on the issue.
A handful of speakers at the City Council’s Administration & Public Works Committee were responding to the city placing back on the agenda an ordinance that would take some action banning the use of disposable plastic shopping bags.
Council members began renewed discussion of the issue following a move by Chicago earlier this year to adopt a partial ban on single use shopping bags, primarily focusing the ordinance on chain and franchise stores.
In 2011, Evanston City Council members, the same serving now, considered a ban on plastic shopping bags, attracting attention nationwide.
Aldermen eventually tabled the ordinance, after some members of the local business community had expressed concerned they would be placed at a competitive disadvantage with the city taking a lead role on the issue.
At Monday night’s meeting, businessman Dick Peach, who helped write the previous ordinance, was among speakers who maintained that staff has failed to come up with promised data, supporting the need for the ordinance.
“This is a wonderful idea that I think is very misplaced,’’ he said. “I think we have a problem with litter. I think we have a problem on multiple levels. But I don’t think plastic bags is the whole culprit.”
In his own west Dempster business district, “my biggest problem is single-use items, which I don’t think plastic bags is,” he said. “I have single-use paper bags, single-use paper cups, single-use fruit wrappers, all over the neighborhood.”
On his way to the meeting, he said, he saw “McDonald’s bags, Burger King bags, Dunkin’ Donut bags, thrown all over the place. Plastic cups, plastic bottles — I don’t think I saw a single plastic bag.”
He said he’s not denying they are an issue, “but I don’t think they raise to the level of banning, where a ban becomes a need to enforce,” he said, without more data.
Another speaker, Jeanne Lindwall, said residents believed there would be more time and more information presented before the city moved forward on the issue.
She said the Chicago ordinance, on which the Evanston proposal is based, “is very poorly drafted and has lots of issues.”
She also raised concern that the city’s health and community development departments are the city departments designated by the ordinance to carry out enforcement of a ban.
Those departments should be focused on issues such as restaurant inspections, food safety, making sure development applications are processed so the city receives important building revenues, she said.
“I think this really is not an appropriate use of tax dollars,” she said.
Betty Ester, another speaker, asked about the jobs lost for plastic workers. She said city officials were to supply residents with figures on what plastic bags generated in revenues when the city operated its own recycling center.
During brief committee debate, Alderman Ann Rainey said that by bringing the ordinance forward, aldermen would have something to work with, but they didn’t indicate they were ready to approve the measure.
“This is the best way to get community input,” she said.
Alderman Coleen Burrus, praised city staff for framing the issues.
Unlike Rainey, she already knows where she’s going on the issue.
“I’m obviously a proponent for getting rid of these bags littering our streets,” she said.Tags: plastic bag ban