Evanston solicits first input on bag ban

May 26, 2011

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Evanston residents and other interested groups had their first chance Tuesday night to weigh in on a proposed ban on single-use shopping bags.

While opinions ran the gamut - from favorable to opposed - all agreed that they would like to see Evanston become a greener place. Where they disagreed was: how?

Some City Council members proposed eliminating both paper and plastic at the checkout last month. The idea quickly hit national news, and Tuesday night's meeting drew more than one hundred people who wanted to discuss the details of such a move. Patrick Rita, from the Renewable Bag Council, flew in from Washington, DC, specifically for the meeting.

"We have not had a locality in any state around the country actually enact a paper bag ban," said Rita, whose organization, the Renewable Bag Council, is made up of brown paper bag manufacturers.

Rita says while many local governments have banned plastic bags, the furthest any has gone on paper bags has been to charge a per-bag fee. But Ald. Ann Rainey of Evanston's 8th Ward, says a fee won't go far enough to change consumer behavior.

"Settling for anything less than a ban would be settling for nothing," said Rainey at the meeting.

Rainey initially proposed the ban, saying it would cut down on environmental waste. Evanston's legal department will compile and present feedback from the meeting to the Administration and Public Works Committee next month, before a new ordinance is drafted.