Members of Evanston’s Economic Development Committee voiced support Tuesday night for taxing the use of all sorts of point-of-sale bags.

And some committee members said they’d support increasing the staff-proposed 10-cent-per-bag tax to 20 or 25 cents.

Typical single-use plastic bags could cost a small retailer just under 4-cents per bag, so even a 10-cent tax would be a 250% tax on the wholesale price of the bag.

A recent report by Columbia University’s Climate School says it’s extremely difficult to determine which type of shopping bag — plastic, paper or reusable cotton tote — is actually most climate-friendly.

The city plan would punish consumers for any use of store-provided bags, thereby favoring shoppers who bring their own cotton totes — though the Columbia report says a cotton bag “needs to be used 7,100 times to equal the environmental profile of a plastic bag.”

Cara Pratt, the city’s sustainability and resilience coordinator, says that, with the EDC’s views in hand, she next plans to “solicit feedback from community stakeholders” about the proposed revision to the city’s existing bag ordinance.

That law bans the distribution of non-reusable plastic bags — but only by large retail stores like supermarkets.

The new proposal is intended to impact all retail merchants in the city.

Related story: City seeks to tax all kinds of shopping bags (5/25/22)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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