Recycling and environmental groups urge governor to veto bag bill

By Environment Illinois

CHICAGO — Fourteen pro-recycling and environmental groups delivered a letter to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) Aug. 9 urging him to veto the Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act (S.B. 3442), a controversial state senate bill that has received widespread criticism since passing the legislature in May.

The letter argues the bill’s proposed statewide recycling program — which would increase recycling by just 0.1 percent over the next half decade — would do little to reduce waste while locking Illinois into high rates of plastic bag use.

Business groups want to prevent Illinois cities from doing the bag use reduction programs that are happening in other states,” said Jennifer Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, who signed the Aug. 9 letter. “That’s the real goal of this legislation.”

Environmental and pro-recycling groups usually strongly support producer responsibility for creating recycling programs for their products. But given its very weak recycling requirements, this bill appears to primarily be a plastics industry initiative to block Illinois cities from enacting bans or fees on single use plastic shopping bags. Many jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles County, and more than 40 cities and counties in California, have implemented such bag use reduction strategies within the last few years.

The Illinois Recycling Association would support legislation that directly contributes to the recycling of plastic bags and true source reduction,” said Paul Jaquet, president of the Illinois Recycling Association, in an April letter urging legislators to oppose the bill. The Illinois Recycling Association was one of two recycling organizations to sign the Aug. 9 letter.

Many local governments in Illinois oppose the bill because it would limit their options for reducing plastic bag litter and waste. Champaign Mayor Don Gerard said in an interview with Chicago’s WBEZ radio that he feels his city is “being bullied” out of home rule authority by the plastics industry.

Abby Goldberg, a 12-year-old from Grayslake, received more than 160,000 signatures on her petition asking Quinn to veto the bag bill. The governor personally accepted her petitions at a press conference July 3 at Chicago’s Thompson Center.

The governor should bag this bill,” said Kerry Brown, campaign coordinator at Environment Illinois.

The governor has until the end of August to decide whether to veto the bill.

Posted Aug. 10, 2012

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