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The City of Evanston will be holding a community meeting to discuss a proposed ban on disposable carryout bags in the city. The meeting will include a presentation from the Office of Sustainability on the current use and impacts of disposable carryout bags and an overview of the proposed bag ban. A question and comment session will follow.

The Community Meeting on Proposed Carryout Bag Ban will be held in the Parasol Room, 4th Floor, Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave. on Tuesday, May 24 starting at 7 p.m.

In 2008 the Evanston City Council unanimously adopted the Evanston Climate Action Plan (ECAP) to further identify strategies for the City to implement with the goal of reducing the community’s greenhouse gas emissions by 13% by the year 2012. The ECAP identified waste reduction and recycling as a one of the nine focus areas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the City of Evanston. Included in the ECAP are three strategies to reduce waste from single-use products such as shopping bags and plastic bottles: 1). Encourage retailers to offer incentives to customers that bring their own shopping bags; 2). Investigate a tax or ban on single-use plastic bottles and plastic bags in order to discourage use; and 3). Support voluntary efforts to reduce single-use plastic bottle and bag use.

The City’s Office of Sustainability developed an overview of the current problem with disposable shopping bags, outlines current shopping bag use, disposal and recycling across the State of Illinois and in Evanston, and outlines shopping bag reduction strategies that the City can employ to eliminate the problem in our community and support the goals of the City’s Strategic Plan and the ECAP. Read entire overview here>>>

Several options exist as ways to reduce and eventually eliminate the problem with shopping bags in Evanston. These strategies can be individually approached or used in parallel and can be customized to help reduce disposable bags over a period of time.
Make disposable bag recycling available throughout Evanston – Working with retailers to make recycling available to consumers will provide immediate benefits of keeping the bags out of the landfill and helping to limit the virgin materials used for bag production.

Help residents obtain reusable bags – Providing residents access to reusable bags is an important step to eliminating the need for the disposable bags. The City can work to make reusable bags more accessible by making them readily available for purchase at stores throughout Evanston and by helping to provide discounted or no-cost reusable bags to residents who are not able to afford reusable ones.

Promote education and positive reinforcement – Educating the public on the problem with disposable bags and their options for replacing disposable bags with reusable bags is a key to this program’s success.

Implement a shopping bag tax – An ordinance to enact a $0.05 tax on all shopping bags was introduced to the Administration and Public Works Committee of the City Council on Monday April 25, 2011. The ordinance would affect all carry-out bags of any material, most commonly plastic film or kraft paper which are designed for one-time use to carry customer purchases from a store. The Committee recommended to modify the ordinance to be a ban of these bags.

Implement a shopping bag ban – The Administration and Public Works Committee of the City Council recommended to staff that the draft ordinance presented on Monday April 25, 2011 be updated to be a ban on all disposable shopping bags provided by retailers in Evanston.

Several efforts are already underway within the community by citizen and student groups to help address the issue of disposable bag use. The Public Advocacy Sector of Citizens’ Greener Evanston has been actively educating the local community and is in favor of an ordinance to enact a disposable bag fee in Evanston. The Evanston Environment Board has discussed the disposable bag fee at several meetings over the past year and published a memorandum stating that they are in favor of efforts aimed at reducing shopping bag use.

At Northwestern University (NU), the University’s Chapter of the Roosevelt Institute and the Northwestern Environmental Campus Outreach (ECO) group created an initiative called “Bagless NU” which is working to eliminate plastic bags on NU’s campus. They are currently reaching out to local stores in Evanston to increase the implementation and promotion of reusable products.