Champaign City Council voted to develop a proposal for a fee on plastic bags, at the urging of citizens and businesses dismayed by the amount of litter produced by plastic bags in the local community, including in our precious farmland and waterways. Plastic bags are a major contributor to litter in and around Champaign. Such fees have effectively reduced plastic bag use by as much as 50% in other cities, such as Washington DC, and San Francisco has also implemented such a fee. Revenue raised from the fee would be invested entirely in environmental education efforts, including the distribution of reusable bags. Area businesses including Follett’s Bookstore, Walgreen’s, Hobby Lobby, Ten Thousand Villages, and Champaign Surplus have voiced their support for action to control plastic bags. But the plastic bag industry has launched a misleading smear campaign generating online messages urging City Council members to
bag the ban." As concerned citizens, we must make our voices heard for commonsense environmental policies and not let corporate lobbyists set the course for our community.
- Champaign, Illinois City Council
I support action to reduce plastic bag use in Champaign, including a per bag fee. The EPA estimates that 100 billion bags are distributed throughout the U.S every year and Champaign alone goes through 1,278,150 bags per month. As documented in pictures at the City Council meeting, plastic bags are a serious source of littler in our farmland and waterways. Not only do these bags litter our immediate surroundings, but also cause damage as far as the oceans, with the Ocean Conservancy considering plastic bags to be the second most common marine pollutant.
Already, many customers bring their own reusable bags, and the grocery chain Aldi has a fee on bags, which has succeeded in reducing their use. For those customers not aware of the impacts on plastic bags, a fee would provide the motivation to consider them, as well as helping fund city educational efforts and the distribution of reusable bags. Along with Follett’s Bookstore, Walgreen’s, Hobby Lobby, Ten Thousand Villages, and Champaign Surplus, I believe this waste stream should be reduced to keep our community beautiful and environmentally conscious.
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