Chicago To Join Growing List Of “No Plastic Shopping Bag” Cities

Grocery shoppers of Chicago should start getting used to the notion of bringing their own, reusable bags to the supermarket and other stores; the city’s aldermen passed a resolution earlier today that will ban plastic shopping bags in many stores by Aug. 2015, and almost all stores one year after that.

As in other cities where plastic shopping bags have been banned or heavily regulated, supporters of the Chicago action point to stray bags that fill the city’s gutters and trees, raising both concerns about environmental and aesthetic impact.

“We’re not Neanderthals, we can do better and we should,” explained one alderman to the Chicago Tribune.

The ban would be rolled out in two parts. First, starting in Aug. 2015, retailers with stores larger than 10,000 square feet or chain businesses with at least three outlets operated by the same owner will not be allowed to offer plastic shopping bags to customers. Smaller businesses will have an additional year to ditch the controversial bags.

Since some Chicago neighborhoods are desperately lacking in proper grocery stores, some aldermen raised concerns that a shopping bag ban will harm the city’s efforts to attract supermarkets to these food desserts.

Additionally, stores situated on the city’s edge are worried about losing shoppers to businesses across the city line that will still offer the bags. Some alderman believe that stores could move out of the city rather than face the hassle of only offering paper bags, which are not without their own problems.

A local merchants association had proposed instituting a small per-bag fee as a way of encouraging shoppers to use their own bags, but ultimately the city council went with the ban plan, which has the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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