Chicago city council votes to ban plastic bags

By Harini Jaganathan

The Chicago City Council voted to ban plastic bags in large retail stores on Wednesday in a 30–16 vote. Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressed support for the ban, which goes into effect on August 1, 2015.

This ban will only affect stores that are 10,000 square feet or larger, and will also apply to smaller chain stores starting August 2016. There are currently no plans for smaller restaurants and non-franchise stores to be affected by the ban.

Supporters of the ban argued that it would have a positive environmental impact.  Rahm Emanuel said to DNAinfo, “you can’t be the ‘city in a garden’ and have a set of policies that hurts the environment.”

Will Burns, alderman for Chicago’s Fourth Ward, voted in favor of the ban, while Leslie Hairston, alderman for the Fifth Ward, voted against it Hairston said to DNAinfo that the ban would “widen and deepen the gap between the haves and the have-nots,” and discourage the expansion of supermarkets to South Shore, a neighborhood that she said supermarkets are already deterred from.

The ordinance was proposed by Joe Moreno, alderman for the First Ward, who proposed a similar ban in 2007.

– Harini Jaganathan