Signs that Evanston’s ban on disposable plastic shopping bags could lead to a glut of the reusable kind emerged at Monday’s City Council meeting.

While Catherine Hurley, the city’s sustainability coordinator, was describing plans to implement the ban starting Aug. 1, Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, was seeking takers for 25 of the reusable bags she’s accumulated but no longer needs, leaving them on a chair outside the council chamber.

And Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said she has at least 20 unneeded reusable bags herself.

Hurley said dealing with a possible glut of reusable bags is already part of the planning process for implementing the new ordinance.

A map showing proposed “sustainability hubs.”

She said the city will set up what she called “sustainability hubs” at libraries and other city facilities where people can drop off or pick up reusable bags.

And those locations will also serve as collection sites for plastic film — the stuff used in the disposable bags and in many other types of product wrappers — that gums up the recycliing machinery when placed in the city’s curbside recycling containers.

The city plans to partner with Jewel-Osco, whose stores already serves as plastic film collection points to collect the plastic film from the city sites. Jewel hands over the plastic film it collects to Trex, which turns it into composite deck material.

As part of a pre-ban promotional campaign scheduled to launch during Earth Week next spring, the city plans to distribute some new reusable bags.

But given the apparently ample supply and the high cost of the bags — which Hurley said range from $2 to $5 depending on the material, the design and where they’re produced — City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said he thinks the city’s promotional bag order will be pretty small.

The bag ban applies only to chain and franchise stores. Dine-in and take-out restaurants are exempt.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Thanks for sending me to Mariano’s
    I want to thank the lawmakers here that spend more time worrying about these types of issues rather than filling the empty retail downtown. Many prefer the plastic bags. As one that does, we are now shopping at Mariano’s in another city and love that store compared Jewel. I look forward to spending my money outside of Evanston at this fine grocery store. Thank you!

    1. It would be a good bet that

      It would be a good bet that the councilpeople who voted for this insane law will drive a good deal of shoppers to other towns. May the council and mayor be visited by 3 ghosts on Chirtmas Eve.

      1. It isn’t the councilpeople

        It isn't the councilpeople that are driving shoppers to other towns – it is the lack of reasonably priced fresh produce in Evanston. Jewel and Dominics are a joke when it comes to buying food and Whole Foods is too expensive to stomach. Market Place on Oakton or Fresh Farms in Niles are significantly better than supermarket in Evanston. Hopefully Vale will change this. Until then, I will take my reusable bags to the neighboring towns. 

        1. What

          Dominicks has been gone for a year. I don't know Vale. You did not mentioned Food for Less, Sam's Club, or the half grocery, Trader Joe's.

          It is not the produce. It's the dumb bags law that will reduce the city's sales tax revenue.

    2. Yep, Outside of Evanston
      Yep, we got to the Jewel in Wilmette for our grocery shopping. Especially after Evanston decided we need a 3rd(!) Whole Foods to replace the Dominick’s near us.

      We enjoy the free poop bags for our dog.

      1. Who decides

        Hi Jon,

        Evanston — as in city officials — didn't "decide" to bring in a third Whole Foods. Whole Foods decided to take over the space.

        And what grounds do you imagine the city have had for trying to prevent the opening of a third Whole Foods here?

        — Bill


  2. Oh Darn! I cannot keep from buying reusable bags!

    I find it funny that the councilpeople are complaining about having too many reusable bags – are they missing the point that the bags are "reusable"? This means you do not have to buy a new one each time you shop. 

    If you have too many bags, maybe you should try filling them with charatible donations. Yesterday, the Justin Wynn Leadership Academy delivered houndreds of pounds of food to Evanston food pantries most in reusable bags. Hopefully, the people who need the food are smarter with the "reusable" bags than the council. 

  3. Reusable grocery bags

    Maybe 20-25 years ago, Jewel sold reusable grocery bags made of nylon.  They folded to a 4×6" size and stayed secure with Velcro.  They were THE BEST grocery bags – strong and washable.  I still use them.  When Jewel introduced them, it was too early in the campaign to recycle.  People weren't ready to bags, so they were a flop.  I'd LOVE to see Jewel re-introduce them now that our thinking has changed!

  4. 10 cent recycle plastic bag at Jewel on chicago Ave

    Looks like Jewel quickly got the citys' message – they now have a 10 cent plastic bag for sale at the store on Chicago Ave.  I have not seen this bag for sale at the two Jewels in Wilmette ( green bay or Plaza del Logo) 

    Is this a good deal for Evanston residents will they now go to the two stores in Wilmette?  Clearly not everyone will – but some may – Dominicks is gone – the business is low margin – will a few of these large chains go from Evanston because of this? They are not going to fight this in Public – since they don't want to not look green – but they may just quietly shut the stores here.

    For all the Mayor nonsense about helping the poor – once again – it shows her two faced approach- no 10 cents would hurt her – or mosts others but for someone at the proverty level – or lower income- 10 cents – over the course of a year hurts.

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