Let a Twelve Year Old Inspire You to Take Action on Plastic Bags

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Let a Twelve Year Old Inspire You to Take Action on Plastic Bags

Ask Governor Quinn to Veto SB3442
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Let a Twelve Year Old Inspire You to Take Action on Plastic Bags. Ask Gov. Quinn to Veto SB3442! http://3bl.me/qvnrnn
Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 2:15pm


Abby Goldberg, a 12 year old girl from Grayslake, Illinois, has recently made the news for collecting 150,000 signatures on her online petition asking Governor Quinn for a veto of SB3442.  Abby was working on a school project to ban plastic bags when this bill passed, preventing her project from moving forward.  View Abby's petition here.  SB3442 would ban municipalities in Illinois from taking any action to regulate plastic bags, including local bans, fees, or takeback programs.  Far from recycling additional plastic bags, SB3442 is the most restrictive law in the country limiting local action on plastic bags.  Environmental groups are also opposing the Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act.  

Plastic bag litter is an expensive, dangerous problem across the United States.  Plastic bags do not biodegrade and can become lodged in sewer grates, farm and manufacturing machinery, and other areas causing real economic damage to government and business.

Many communities have taken action to reduce the number of plastic bags in their communities.  Washington D.C.’s five cent tax on plastic bags has reduced plastic bag usage by over 80%.  In California, state government has banned plastic bag taxes.  In response, over forty local governments in California, including San Francisco and, most recently, L.A. County, have completely banned the use of plastic bags.

This bill began as an effort to create a statewide plastic bag recycling program paid for by manufacturers.  This is a concept IEC supports.  However, the recycling accomplished by this bill is negligible and certainly not bold enough to remove locals ability to take action.  Even after the recycling goals of this bill are met, Illinois would remain far below the national average for the percentage of plastic bags and film recycled. Using 2009 DCEO numbers, we predict that this bill would only increase recycling of plastic bags and film by 425 tons. Nearly 500,000 tons of plastic bags and film are thrown away each year.  This bill would only increase plastic bag and film recycling by only one tenth of one percent [.1%].  Manufacturers could meet this goal and save themselves money by recycling solely high quality industrial film instead of consumer plastic bags, which can be contaminated with receipts or other trash.  Manufacturers do not need to recycle a single plastic bag to meet the goals of this program.

The bill proposes to increase collection sites for plastic bags and film.  In addition to requiring sites to be in 90% of Illinois counties by 2014, the bill specifies that collection sites would need to be within 10 miles of 75% of Illinois residents by 2014 and 80% of Illinois residents by 2015.  Many stores, including Wal-Mart, Jewel, Safeway (Dominick’s), and Schnuck’s have corporate policies of offering plastic bag take-back.  Our research shows that it is very likely that all of these goals have already been met for plastic bag collection sites. 

Under the requirements of this bill, plastic bag manufacturers will need to pay $500 to register and pay the EPA for this program.  There are somewhere between 6 and 12 plastic bag manufacturers that could sell to Illinois.  This would give the IEPA a maximum of $6000 to enforce this program and educate the public about plastic bag and film recycling. This is not enough money to fund the program. Above all other objections that have been raised, the program set out in SB 3342 is not solvent and would further drain critical state resources.

This was a controversial bill in the House and Senate which passed at the last minute.  We need your help to educate the Governor and legislators about this legislation.

If this bill is vetoed, we’ll need to make sure that the legislature does not override the Governor’s veto.  If you are in Illinois, Contact both your legislators and the Governor to stop this bill! 


Keywords: Ethical Production & Consumption | Illinois Environmental Council | Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act | Plastic bags | Recycling | environment