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Quinn vetoes plastic bag bill

Monday, Aug 27, 2012

* This was pretty much expected

The rule in 13-year-old Abby Goldberg’s house is no phone calls from boys at night. But on Saturday, her father made an exception when Gov. Pat Quinn called the Grayslake girl turned activist shortly after 9 p.m. to share some good news.

After her yearlong crusade and an online campaign dubbed “Don’t Let Big Plastic Bully Me,” the northwest suburban girl is celebrating Quinn’s decision to veto legislation that would have prevented cities and towns in Illinois from banning plastic bags and imposing fees on their use.

“I was so excited,” the giddy eighth-grader said Sunday. “I thanked him so many times.”

Concerned about the fate of animals that can eat or become fatally tangled in discarded plastic bags, Abby posted a petition on Change.org in June decrying “the devastation that millions of plastic bags have caused the environment and ocean life.” A month later, with more than 150,000 signatures in hand, she traveled to Springfield and urged Quinn to oppose the industry-backed bill. On Saturday, Quinn called Abby to tell her he had no intention of signing the plastic bag bill.

* No way could Quinn resist such an entreaty. And now Champaign may move forward with a ban or a tax

Mayor Don Gerard on Sunday applauded Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of a bill that would have prevented Champaign from dealing with plastic bags on its own terms. Gerard said local officials can now resume discussions about limiting the use of the bags at stores within its borders. […]

If the veto stands, Gerard said it could be time to continue the discussions in the Champaign City Building of banning or placing a per-bag fee on plastic bags at checkout lines.

“I suppose it is time for us now to continue those discussions,” Gerard said. “There was actually pretty substantial support to move forward with something, to do something.”

City officials earlier this year presented the program to city council members as a way to deal with plastic bag litter throughout the city. By forcing retailers to charge a fee — something like 5 cents per bag — or by banning the use of plastic bags altogether, they said residents would use fewer bags when they check out at stores.

* A veto override is possible, since the legislation garnered strong support in the General Assembly

The veto is a victory for Abby Goldberg, a 13-year-old from Grayslake, Ill., who had launched a petition drive against the bill. Goldberg wanted her community to ban plastic bags, and in July she personally delivered a petition with more than 150,000 signatures urging the veto.

On Aug. 26, Goldberg sent a message to her Twitter followers that the battle is not over.

“OK, thanks are done, time to role up our sleeves again!” she wrote to backers who were congratulating her on the victory. “Encourage [Illinois] legislators to not override veto!!!!!!” she wrote.

* More

Manufacturers said they were disappointed in Quinn’s decision. Lawmakers could still vote to override Quinn’s veto.

Mark Denzler, vice president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, said in a statement that the law “represented an opportunity for Illinois to lead the nation in recycling plastic bags and plastic film that account for a major part of the waste stream.”

He said that without a statewide regulation manufacturers and retailers would face a “confusing and costly patchwork of regulations across the state.”

* The response from the Retail Merchants Association…

The most critical aspect of the bill-most often left out by opponents’-is the recycling requirement of both plastic bags and plastic film. Plastic film includes newspaper bags, dry-cleaning bags, shrink wrap, etc. Plastic bags constitute just 15% of plastic waste, whereas 85% comes from plastic film.

    * Legislation would have diverted 426 tons/852,000 pounds of plastic from landfills at a minimum
    * To put this in perspective, a Toyota Prius weighs 3,042 pounds. So, SB 3442 would have at a minimum diverted the equivalent of 280 Prius’ from landfills every year.
    * Governor Quinn’s vetoallows home rule municipalities to take away choices from consumers who want to recycle plastic and now can tax their residents, or ban plastic bags entirely.
    * SB 3442 was supported by a broad coalition of organizations such as the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA), American Progressive Bag Alliance, Chemical Industry Council of Illinois (CICI), Illinois Food Retailers Association, Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association/IL Association of Convenience Stores, National Solid Wastes Management Association and Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO)

“The legislation that passed the legislature with strong bi-partisan support would have established the first statewide recycling program in the nation,” said David Vite, President/CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA). “Governor Quinn had the opportunity to lead the nation. Instead, his veto ensures Illinois continues to be a follower without a comprehensive plan.

Those of us who advocated for a first in the nation comprehensive plastic recycling program will be reviewing our options in the coming days.”

* From the governor’s press release…

Opponents to the bill and those urging a veto include the Illinois Municipal League, Northwest Municipal Conference, nearly 150 municipalities, Sierra Club, Illinois Environmental Council, Environment Illinois, Illinois Recycling Association, Chicago Recycling Coalition, Prairie River Network, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Natural Resources Defense Council, Faith in Place, Protestants for the Common Good, Illinois Policy Institute, Surfrider Chicago, Center for Oceanic Awareness, the 175,000 signers of Abby Goldberg’s online petition and others.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


21 Comments
  1. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    “To put this in perspective, a Toyota Prius weighs 3,042 pounds. So, SB 3442 would have at a minimum diverted the equivalent of 280 Prius’ from landfills every year.”

    What compliance level is assumed when making such claims? Does anyone think that people won’t be tossing these bags, just as they do now?


  2. - chefjeff - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:59 am:

    I know ADM has the technology to make grocery bags from corn. They also have a venture called metabolix that makes fast food packaging from bio degradable materials. Where are they in this debate?


  3. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 11:07 am:

    Just when other folks are declaring Pat Quinn DOA in 2014, he does something smart like this.

    Who doesn’t love a guy who sides with a 13 year-old girl against polluters?


  4. - gg - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 11:12 am:

    I just returned from eastern France. None of the stores/restuarants have throw away plastic bags.
    They seem to be surviving.


  5. - amalia - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 11:24 am:

    Go Abby!!!!!!!!!


  6. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 11:36 am:

    @Rich -

    I’m not sure if our definition of “strong support in the General Assembly” has changed, but SB 3442 received only 72 votes in the House and 38 votes in the Senate.

    Because the measure exempts the City of Chicago, many Chicago Democrats went ahead and voted for it. It was also the waning days of the GA and Senator Link’s sponsorship no doubt helped.

    I doubt the Illinois Manufacturers Association will spend the political capital needed to convince Democrats to override Quinn’s veto. And Sierra Club will no doubt be working north side lawmakers who voted in favor pretty hard.

    Abby seems to be in a pretty strong position.


  7. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 11:36 am:

    Much ago about nothing. Feel-good bill with no real benefit.

    The vast majority of plastic refuse is being properly recycled. Another example of how government continues to grow with nothing to show for it.


  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 11:58 am:

    @Plutocrat -

    Um, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own FACTS.

    Plastics recycling continues to lag with only a 7.1% recovery rate (by weight). Plastics constituted an estimated 30 million tons of MSW in 2009 and the amount of plastic generation as a percentage of total MSW generation has remained fairly steady over the past few years.


  9. - OldSmoky2 - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 12:04 pm:

    == I know ADM has the technology to make grocery bags from corn. ==

    The last thing we need is another product made from corn that doesn’t need to be made from corn. Meat prices are way up already because it’s gotten so expensive for livestock farmers to buy feed, in part because of corn production being diverted to produce ethanol.

    == The vast majority of plastic refuse is being properly recycled. Another example of how government continues to grow with nothing to show for it. ==

    If it is being recycled already, why do the bill’s supporters claim that it would be a big benefit to up the percentage that’s recycled by 12 percent? And, no - vetoing the bill leaves local governments, not the state government, in control of their own affairs. I would think small-government types would be for that.

    == Governor Quinn’s veto allows home rule municipalities to take away choices from consumers who want to recycle plastic… ==

    Nothing about vetoing the bill prevents anyone who wants to from recycling to their heart’s content.
    Why do the plastic bag manufacturers need this bill to get them to improve recycling efforts? If they’re so keen to do that, why don’t they just go ahead and do it? Since when do they need to take away local home rule rights to do something they’re already free to do?


  10. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 12:06 pm:

    –”The rule in 13-year-old Abby Goldberg’s house is no phone calls from boys at night. But on Saturday, her father made an exception when Gov. Pat Quinn called…”

    Yikes, I don’t like where this story is headed.

    Couldn’t the Tribbie come up with a creepier lede?


  11. - 1776 - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 12:36 pm:

    The industry should have gotten a 7-year old and his puppy to counter Abby. The most unreported story was her own interview with WGN television and I quote:

    “A friend at my school got me in contact with another activist named Ben Zolno. He was the creator of Plastic Bag State of Mind. His idea was to start the petition and I was in Israel for two weeks so the whole thing got started while I was on vacation.”

    Don’t get me wrong. Its a beautiful PR scam but she didn’t come up with the idea or create the petition. The enviros are using a 13 year old girl to do their dirty work.


  12. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 12:43 pm:

    –The industry should have gotten a 7-year old and his puppy to counter Abby.–

    How about a plastic seven-year-old and plastic puppy? What would the message be, anyway? Always helpful to have a message.

    –The enviros are using a 13 year old girl to do their dirty work.–

    Enviros? That doesn’t sound sinister. Try harder.

    And was “dirty work” laughably intentional or just a hilarious Freudian slip?


  13. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 1:06 pm:

    How does this affect clean-up of doggie doo-doo in parks and along streets?


  14. - Hank - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 1:12 pm:

    Glad he listens to somebody, can young Abby spend a few months in Springfield after the election?


  15. - Going nuclear - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 1:28 pm:

    OldSmoky2 is right. There is nothing preventing the plastic bag manufacturers and retailers from working together to establish a comprehensive program for recycling plastic bags. How about setting progressively more challenging recycling targets like 25% by the end of 2015, 50% by 2020 and 75% by 2025? I don’t expect that very many local governments will move to ban or tax plastic bags in Illinois. I think a comprehensive statewide solution makes more sense, perhaps allowing a ban to go into effect if the recycling targets are not achieved. This would provide an incentive for industry to develop and maintain a meaningful recycling program.


  16. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 1:45 pm:

    I’d like to see la mariposa* banned. I’ve taken to picking up the ones I can get to walking from my front door to the bus stop since there’s a trash can there. Today I snagged a dozen. I always stick them underneath something in the can so they won’t blow out again.

    *Mexican slag for the bags. Since they’re flying around everywhere.


  17. - RNUG - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 3:49 pm:

    OldSmoky2 & Going nuclear,

    From my perspective, this was a pre-emptive bill designed to prevent municipalities from totally banning plastic bags. Don’t see why we need the plastic bags anyway; nobody at the grocery stores knows how to fill them, so they end up using three or four times the number of bags.

    If you don’t want to use reusable cloth bags, we can go back to paper; we all survived decades of years using brown paper bags … and old timers that were grocery clerks know how to fill them!


  18. - Leatherneck318 - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 7:42 pm:

    So, this 13-year-old girl turns in a “petition” with over 100k “signatures”…anybody verify how many times Bieber or all the members of “Big Time Rush” were on the list?


  19. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 28, 12 @ 1:44 am:

    Serious question: Can someone remind me why the paper bags are rarely used anymore? Is it a difference in cost? I always liked the paper bags better and still ask for them.


  20. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Aug 28, 12 @ 8:15 am:

    @Leatherneck -

    See, you’re only option is to attack a 13 year-old girl.

    That’s why this is such a great win for Quinn.

    Bring it on! If I’m Quinn, I’d love to spend the next two months defending kids from big lobbyists.


  21. - Reading The Fine Print - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 1:40 pm:

    This bill was poorly written and has many other significant problems. It would have required every retailer in Illinois to buy bags ONLY from registered bag suppliers with specific printing on each bag. Add up the printing on the bag, the fee the bag company pays to the State for being in the program, the cost for every bag company doing business in IL to create recycling centers, and the limitation placed on retailers to only buy conforming bags and you have something close to Communism.

    Don’t forget the cost of the bureaucracy who’s job it would be to fine unconforming merchants and businesses for having contraband (non-Illinois-printed) bags on their premises. I’m for keeping polluting bags out of our landfills, but I can guarantee this would be a miserable bill for retailers…who would pass on the cost to consumers.

    By the way, if you think the “American Progessive Bag Alliance” is a real organization representing the views of the industry then I have a pallet of eco-friendly plastic bags to sell you.


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