Plastic Bag Ban in Oak Park?

Should Oak Park ban or limit single-use shopping or carry out bags within the Village?  The Energy and Environmental Sustainability Commission has been researching the issue with the objective of making a recommendation to the Village Board of Trustees.  (Evanston is considering similar legislation.)

In addition to reviewing ordinances enacted in Chicago, San Francisco and other cities with all or partial bans in place, the Commission surveyed Oak Park residents to test community support for the idea.  Not surprisingly, Oak Parkers are in favor of limiting single-use shopping bags because of their negative impact on the environment.  But will they pay more for the more expensive compostable, recyclable or made-from-recycled material bags?  Or remember to bring their own?

The Commission now is turning to the business community for input.  Businesses which use the plastic checkout bags in question are strongly encouraged to fill out the survey, which is designed for retailers.  Click here for the online version.  Other businesses that want to weigh in can contact us at the Chamber and we will forward your suggestions and concerns.

The time is NOW to add the business perspective – BEFORE the Commission recommends an ordinance.  The Commission is listening to all concerns and ideas and can recommend anything from a full to partial ban.  Their recommendation will then go to Village staff and ultimately to the Board of Trustees, which has final authority to create law. A few examples of modifications to a full ban and other potential provisions:

  • plastic bags banned at chain retailers only
  • require a business be a certain size, for example 10,000 square feet or larger
  • put the onus on the consumer to pay 10 or 25 cents per paper bag if businesses are required to offer the higher cost bags made from recycled material or compostable bags
  • exempt dining establishments, either for all take-out or just “doggy bags” meant to transport dine-in leftovers
  • decide whether retailers are required to have a recycling bin for old bags on premises,
  • are plastic newspaper sleeves exempt?
  • Village-wide subsidy or strategically sourced program for purchasing reusable bags that can be sold

These are just a few provisions from other cities- and they may or may not make sense for Oak Park.  The point is now is the time for you to say what you think will work economically for your business or your business neighbors.

For comparison purposes, here’s a link to San Francisco Department of Environment description of their city’s “Checkout Bag Ordinance.  You can find a video presentation on Chicago’s ordinance by clicking here.

Please take the Oak Park survey, or send your feedback to cyen@oprfchamber.org .  We want to ensure that we support sustainability – not just of our environment, but of our businesses.

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