Evanston aldermen Monday will be asked to again take up the tangled question of throw-away plastic shopping bags more than two-and-a-half years after they banished it from their agenda.
The renewed interest in the issue by city staff is prompted by last month’s adoption of restrictions on their use in Chicago.
The Chicago ordinance phases in a ban on disposable plastic bags starting in August 2015.
But the ban only applies to chain stores and franchise operations and won’t hit retailers with stores smaller than 10,000 square feet until August 2016.
It also exempts restaurants, allows the use of plastic bags to wrap meat and produce and permits the use of “commercially compostable plastic bags.”
Evanston Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, first proposed a 25 cent tax on the bags in 2010 and then cut the proposed tax to 5 cents and expanded its scope to also include other disposable bags in 2011.
Then, at the suggestion of Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, aldermen also started to consider banning the bags instead, after store owners objected to the added hassle of collecting a tax.
After Burrus lashed out at opponents of the tax plan at a June 2011 council meeting, the aldermen directed the Environment Board to develop a revised proposal after discussing its impact with local merchants.
But when the revised plan returned to council, the aldermen concluded the board had failed to consult with the businesses and put the bag tax or ban idea on the shelf.
In reaction to the new Chicago ordinance, Evanston’s Environment Board voted unanimously earlier this month to ask for renewed consideration of a ban.
Approaching the concept gingerly now, the staff proposal to aldermen asks for “discussion and consideration” of the ban idea and proposes holding a community meeting on the issue at 7 p.m., Thursday, June 5, at the Ecology Center.