On August 1, Chicago’s partial ban went into effect which requires major retailers with more than 10,000 square feet to provide reusable or recyclable bags of any material or commercially compostable plastic bags, encouraging shoppers to be more eco-friendly. Smaller chains and franchises will have to comply next year, provided they are part of chain of at least three stores. However, certain chains have found a loophole in this new ordinance and plan to offer thicker plastic bags for free that still comply with the new law, which says if made of plastic, the reusable bag must be a minimum of at least 2.25 mils thick and tough enough to last for 125 uses
The city’s largest grocery chain, Jewel-Osco, says in a statement that: “The new reusable [plastic] bag can hold up to 22 pounds and can be reused 125 times. For customers interested in a different type of reusable [plastic] bag, Jewel-Osco is offering several styles beginning at 10 cents.” Jewel-Osco will also provide customers with paper bags, as well, and there are reusable non-plastic bags for purchase for $1.49. Shoppers are encouraged to bring back their “reusable” thicker plastic bags.
Other major grocery stores like, Mariano’s, are replacing all plastic bags with paper ones, and continue to offer, for purchase, a range of reusable bags.
But, really, how effective is this “ban.” After all, paper bags aren’t the most environmentally sound solution. According to the EPA’s summary of the paper industry’s environmental impact, “paper manufacturing is a highly energy-intensive process. It requires large amounts of water, energy and chemicals, and can emit toxic and hazardous chemicals into air and water.” The EPA has also found that paper and plastic take about the same amount of time to degrade in a landfill.
So, if you ask me, what’s the point? I re-use my “single-use” plastic bags all the time as garbage bags, doggie bags, etc. Can’t say I’d do the same with a recyclable paper bag. Also, by taking away plastic bags and increasing the use of paper bags, what good does that do to the environment?