Plastic Pollution, Bag Bans
June 19 2013

Surfrider Activists Stand Up To Fight Plastic Pollution in LA and Chicago

by Bill Hickman

Tuesday was a big day for plastic bag reductions in two of the largest U.S. cities, Los Angeles and Chicago.  The City of LA is very close to finalizing a plastic checkout bag ban they have been discussing for ten years while there are positive signs out of Chicago as Aldermen discussed the issue officially for the first time after a failed plastic bag recycling programSurfrider Foundation Chapter activists were at both hearings to show their support.

In Los Angeles, many of the headlines lead you to think that the bag ban is final but it does need a second vote then the Mayor's signature.  That should happen next week, then we will be ready to celebrate and call it a Coastal Victory.  LA City Council first discussed plastic bag pollution back in 2004 and the leadership of Councilmember Paul Koretz helped to get this ordinance to the finish line.  Below is a photo of Councilmember Koretz and some of the Surfrider South Bay LA and West LA/Malibu Chapter activists who have been working on the issue for years.

In Chicago, the City Council Committee of Health and Environmental Protection discussed a new ordinance for the first time but there was not a quorum so a vote has been postponed until later this year.  Mitch from the Surfrider Chicago Chapter spoke in support of a Reusable Bag Ordinance that eliminates plastic checkout bags at food stores and places a small fee on paper bags as the incentive to remember your bag or go without one for small purchases.  Alderman Proco Joe Moreno introduced draft ordinance language in 2011 and is inspired to help reduce plastic pollution through this ordinance.  Follow the Bring Your Bag Chicago campaign here.

It's always a group effort to pass meaningful legislation like this so we are happy to work with other groups in these cities such as Heal The Bay, 5 Gyres, Environment California, everyone in the Clean Seas Coalition and a host of others.  It's also great to see the youth fired up about stopping plastic bag litter and the next generation was represented at both city halls, including Activist Abby in Chicago.  Thanks for all of your great work!