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The bag police are back

plastic-bag

Evanston's Environment Board is resuming a push to tax the use of paper and plastic carryout bags in the city.

Public opposition sent earlier plans for a bag tax or ban back to the drawing board in June, with Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, asking the panel to investigate whether an educational campaign would be better than legislation in discouraging wasteful bag use.

But a memo from the Environment Board submitted to aldermen Monday night advocates a five-cent tax on paper and plastic carryout bags and provides no data on the relative effectiveness and costs of either voluntary or legislatively-mandated approaches to the issue.

Under the new plan, merchants would get to keep two-cents of the bag fee and the rest would be designated for use for educational programs at the city's Ecology Center.

The memo didn't include an estimate of how much money the bag tax might generate, but advocates, including Michael Drennan of 820 Oakton St., claim that city residents use as many as 25 million disposable plastic bags a year.

If the tax cut such usage in half, it still would generate $375,000 a year to fund the environmentalists' favorite city programs.

The memo does not discuss any enforcement costs associated with imposing the tax or how those costs would be paid for.

Aldermen, who were scheduled to discuss the the proposal Monday night, instead put it off until next Monday, after discussion of other topics ran longer than expected.

The bag tax idea has been floating around, like a carelessly disgarded plastic bag, for over a year now.

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