Plastic Pollution, Bag Bans
June 13 2013

Chicago Plastic Bag Recycling Falls Short

by Bill Hickman

In 2009 a citywide ordinance for Chicago was implemented to help increase plastic bag recycling but a recent report shows that the program has not been successful.  The ordinance called for recycling messaging on plastic checkout bags, recycling bins in every store, to recycle or reuse the bags, and to submit an annual report.  A tally of those annual reports is released every two years and the numbers in the latest report are very discouraging. 

According to the report, the weight of plastic bags and film collected dropped from 1,033,698 lbs to 753,740.4 lbs, while businesses participating in the program dropped from 1,043 to 725.  Meanwhile, the average cost to stores INCREASED from $122.26 to $164.52 during the latest reporting period.  Click Here to read the full report.

As the Chicago City Council considers a Reusable Bag Ordinance to help curb plastic pollution these are important numbers to consider.  The plastics industry likes to tout that plastic bags are '100% Recyclable' while failing to mention that reports point to recycling rates in the single digits.  We can't recycle our way out of plastic bag litter, the time has come for reusable bags and meaningful checkout bag reductions to tackle the problem.

Sign the Bring Your Bag Chicago Petition and visit the BYB Chicago Facebook page.