Illinois Governor Vetoes Plastic Bag Law

Bill would have required manufacturers to register with state EPA and stamp a number on each plastic bag.

August 28, 2012
Recycling Today Staff
Municipal / IC&I Plastics

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed a bill that sought to establish a statewide recycling program for plastic bags. Quinn said the law would have removed the right of home-rule communities to implement innovative solutions to the plastic bag litter problem. In his veto message, Quinn said the bill was more restrictive than similar bag across the country.

The governor also reiterated his commitment to work with communities, businesses and advocates to pass a better bill in the next legislative session to increase recycling.

Senate Bill 3442, also known as the “plastic bag” bill, would have required manufacturers to register with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and to stamp a number on each plastic bag. The bill would have outlawed the purchase of plastic bags from nonregistered manufacturers and prohibited municipalities from enacting their own recycling programs, fees or bans on plastic bags.

The Illinois Municipal League and 150 municipalities who saw the bill as an undermining of home rule opposed the measure. Under the 1970 Illinois Constitution, home rule enables municipalities to exercise greater control over local problems. Illinois currently has 209 home rule units-whose authority would have been weakened by this bill.

“This bill was an assault on the principle of home rule and the idea that innovations can come from municipalities,” says Mayor Don Gerard of Champaign, Ill., whose city council was moving toward regulation of plastic bags in retail stores. “If the city of Champaign and other towns want to put a fee on plastic bags or ban them or do nothing, it should be our choice.”

“With this veto, Gov. Quinn has completed the 2012 legislative session with a perfect record for the environment,” said Jennifer Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council.