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Chicago City Council Hammers Out Plastic Bag Ban Compromise

Date: April 28, 2014

Proposed Ordinance Would Exempt Some Small Businesses

The Chicago City Council is considering a plan to prohibit plastic bags at city businesses. The proposed ban is part of a nationwide trend, which began when San Francisco barred plastic bags back in 2007. Since then, numerous other municipalities have followed suit, including Los Angeles.

Originally, the Council considered a broad ban on plastic bags. However, opposition from city and state business interests threatened to kill the proposal, resulting in a compromise that excludes some small businesses, but by no means all. The ban would be enacted in two phases. The first would require that by August 15, all chain stores and franchise stores of more than 10,000 square feet, would have to end the use of plastic bags. A year later, smaller chain stores and franchise stores would be required to comply. However, independent stores and restaurants would be exempted. All impacted retailers would be required to offer alternative bags, such as reusable shopping bags or paper bags, to their customers, though they would be allowed to charge a fee.

What’s Next:

The media sees the compromise measure as likely to pass, and it has the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, though a timeline has not been set.

What This Means For Small Businesses In Chicago:

While the initial proposal would have had a bigger impact on small business, the compromise plan would still have a significant impact. That’s because many of the franchise operations, such as convenience stores, are independently owned. Small business supporters have expressed concern that the new regulation would have an impact on wards that border suburbs, which don’t have similar bag requirements, sending customers there or prompting businesses to uproot.

Further Reading:

The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times both report on the issue.

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