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Illinois Ponders Recycling Plastic Bags

Alex Degman, Illinois Capitol Bureau
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SPRINGFIELD, ILL. (IRN) – When you  went shopping it use to be, “paper or plastic,” but now, chances are your going to get a plastic bag for your purchases.

Surprisingly Illinois manufacturing and commerce groups are supporting a statewide plastic bag recycling program, which puzzles environmental groups.

Environment Illinois spoke against the program in an Illinois House committee, saying this weak program would prohibit cities from crafting their own plans – and it’s essentially a ruse to prohibit stricter regulations, benefiting the manufacturers.

Not so, says Mark Denzler of the Illinois Manufacturers Association. He says bag producers just need uniformity.

“It makes it more difficult for manufacturers to comply with different rules and regulations throughout the state, it makes it more difficult for retailers,” he says. “Any community can do it in the state, there are only two communities that do it. Doing a statewide program, you’re going to recycle more product immediately.”

All communities except Chicago would be bound by the law, as the language exempts cities with populations greater than 2 million.

The measure would make bag recycling more available, requiring 75 percent of Illinois residents to be within 10 miles of a drop-off site by 2014. Ninety percent of Illinois counties would have to have a drop-off site, and plastic film manufacturers would have to register and pay fees to the Illinois EPA or forfeit their ability to sell their products in Illinois.

Bill proponents have agreed to amend the bill to address other concerns from environmental groups. For example, some contend it doesn’t do enough to put pressure on manufacturers to become more efficient. The bill language says “manufacturers of plastic carryout bags shall strive to manufacture the bag to include at least 30 percent total recycled content,” and “manufacturers selling plastic carryout bags for use or distribution in Illinois may label each bag to identify the recycled content in the bag.”

Environment Illinois says that doesn’t require the companies to do anything, but merely suggests they can.

Copyright Illinois Radio Network

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