Winners and Losers

Departments - Plastics

October 8, 2012
Recycling Today Staff

Plastic bag bans are topical again, as one U.S. governor vetoes a bill that would have prohibited municipalities from enacting their own recycling programs, fees or bans on plastic bags; the Ontario Convenience Store Association threatens to sue over Toronto’s ban; and a judge upholds San Francisco’s ordinance banning the use of plastic bags by most retailers.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed a bill that sought to establish a statewide recycling program for plastic bags. Quinn says the law would have removed the right of home-rule communities to implement innovative solutions to the plastic bag litter problem and is more restrictive than similar bans.

The governor says he will 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 that 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.

According to a report from CBC News, if the Toronto City Council does not reverse its ban on plastic bags, affected industries are promising legal action.

A motion to reopen the vote on the council’s original decision was scheduled for early October.

Earlier this year, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford had entered a motion to get rid of the 5-cent fee on plastic bags, which was implemented three years ago, according to the CBC News report. After the city council passed the motion, the fee was removed July 1.

However, council then voted 24-20 in support of a motion to ban plastic bags altogether starting Jan. 1, 2013, CBC News notes.

In San Francisco, the ordinance that bans most retail locations in the city from distributing plastic bags and mandates retailers charge customers 10 cents per paper or compostable plastic bag has received the go-ahead in the form of a ruling by Superior Court Judge Teri Jackson.

The Save The Plastic Bag Coalition argued that the city did not fully study the effects of the ordinance before it was passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and signed by Mayor Ed Lee earlier this year, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The new ordinance expands the 2007 San Francisco law banning noncompostable plastic bags at large supermarkets and pharmacies. It went into effect Oct. 1 and extends to restaurants in the summer of 2013.


(Additional information about secondary plastics, including breaking news and consuming industry reports, is available at