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Environmentalists hoping for statewide plastic recycling bill

Some environmentalists are pushing Springfield legislation that would create a statewide plastic recycling system. They don’t expect action this week, but perhaps in weeks to come.

The framework is a 2012 bill state Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, helped shepherd through both houses, only to see Gov. Pat Quinn veto it. One person representing the plastic bag side said this year’s bill is pretty much the same as the 2012 version. As Early & Often reported Monday, Link has met with both industry and environmentalists, and more meetings are expected before a final version is drawn up.

Back in the 2012 bill, industry secured a multi-year ban on communities outside Chicago imposing plastic-bag bans because manufacturers would have been required to invest in new recycling facilities, and they needed to ensure there would be a supply of plastic bags and plastic film to recycle. That stirred up municipal opposition, even though the industry side said it would have given Illinois the first statewide plastic recycling law in the nation. Opponents said the bill also would have been the first in the nation to prohibit municipalities from implementing their own plastic-reduction programs.

The state bill was partly motivated by disappointment in Chicago’s voluntary plastic recycling ordinance, which passed in 2008. That disappointment also has led to a proposed ban on retail plastic bags in Chicago, on which a vote is scheduled for April 15.

Under Link’s bill, as now worded, a manufacturer would be prohibited from selling plastic bags in the state unless it had invested in the recyling program. It also would require manufacturers to collect and report statistics on recycling.

Read a March 31 Sun-Times editorial on Chicago’s proposed ban on retail plastic bags here.