December 7, 2022

Volume XII, Number 341


December 06, 2022

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December 05, 2022

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Chicago Plastic Bag Ordinance: Incentivizing Consumers to Change Their Plastic Consumption Behavior

As our society continues to advance, there is always some form of environmental costs associated.  In the 1970’s, the public concern grew about the rapid rate at which the Country’s forests were being degraded.[i]  With the success of American commerce, came the need for supplying some form of easy method to enable consumers to carry their purchases.  Paper bags became the default method around the country and since billions of bags were required per year, many trees had to be cut down for production.[ii]  Therefore, manufactures created the light weight inexpensive plastic bag.[iii]  However, decades after the single-use plastic bag had become the default shopping bag, the reality set in that the ease of plastic bags came at a massive environmental cost.[iv]  According to environmentalists, just beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean is an unsurmountable mass of single-use plastic bags.[v]  Further, it is stressed that marine animals mistake the single-use plastic bags for food, and consequently choke on them.[vi]  As a result of our plastic bag use, the American consumer business culture that was blamed for ruining the Nation’s forests in the 1970’s is now being blamed for ruining the planet’s oceans.

In response to the growing concern about the endangerment of the marine animals and the growing prevalence of single-use plastic bag liter, many state and local legislatures enacted laws in an endeavor to curb the environmental damage.[vii]  At the forefront of this movement was the state of California.  In 2007, the city of San Francisco was the first municipality in the United States to prohibit large stores from distributing single-use plastic bags.[viii]  San Francisco’s ban required the large stores to convert from single-use plastic bags to compostable plastic bags.[ix]  Following San Francisco’s lead, many other California cities passed single-use plastic bag ordinances.[x] 

On August 1, 2015, Chicago City Council enacted its plastic bag ordinance.[xi]  The ordinance prohibits the distribution of single-use plastic bags to consumers at retail check-out counters.[xii]  Since Chicago is one of the most recent cities to enact such a bag ban, and because the ordinance is still newly enacted, the timing to examine the effectiveness of shopping bag ordinances is appropriate. 

Part one of this comment will discuss the background of the debate regarding the single-use plastic bag as a convenience and as a detriment.  Part two provides an analysis of examples of the plastic bag ordinances enacted in other cities, and also any legal issues that developed as a result.  Part three is an in-depth review of the current Chicago bag ordinance, and highlights of any loopholes and potential alternatives that pose more harm to the environment than the single-use plastic bag.  Part four is a discussion of any potential fixes to cure deficiencies in the Chicago bag ordinance, and the possible effects on local businesses and consumers.  Finally, Part five succinctly summarizes this Comment.

  1. Background on the Problem with Continued Distribution of Plastic Bags

The single-use plastic bag is not composed of rapidly biodegradable materials.  The plastic resin required to produce single-use plastic bags is derived from the polymerizing of natural gas and petroleum.[xiii]  The litter issue of the ubiquitous single-use plastic bag occurs due to the long length of time required for the bags to decompose.[xiv]  Direct sunlight is required to “photo-degrade” the single-use plastic bag.[xv]  However, due to their light weight single-use plastic bags are regularly whisked away from landfills and end up in our streets and oceans.[xvi]  Research has shown that these bags only degrade into microscopic pieces, but never really actually decompose.[xvii] 

One scholar has termed the issue of the single-use plastic bag as a “tragedy of the commons.”[xviii]  The scholar supports her argument by informing that consumers do not have a shared mission of preservation, which is why they easily discard their single-use plastic bags without ever thinking about the costs to the environment.[xix]  The negative externalities such as litter and choking hazards to marine animals are not felt by consumers or plastic bag manufacturers.[xx]  Researchers hypothesize that if consumers are made to pay for the societal costs that result from one single-use plastic bag each time they consume one, then the negative externalities will be directly borne by that consumer and will result in dis-incentivizing the consumer from using plastic bags.[xxi]

  1. The Government’s Attempt to Change Consumer Behavior

Initially many states implemented recycling programs to alleviate the damaging effects of the plastic bags on the environment.[xxii]  The state of Illinois enacted the “Plastic Bag Recycling Act” on August 17, 2007, only to repeal the Act on June 1, 2010.[xxiii]  The Illinois recycling act did not expound as to the reasons that caused the legislature to repeal the Act.  It is reasonable to deduce that the recycling program was determined more problematic than beneficial, since only five percent of single-use plastic bags were recycled in California when it implemented its program.[xxiv]  The problem with these mandatory in store recycling programs, is that it requires the consumer to return to the store with the plastic bags that were distributed to them the last time that they were in the store.[xxv]  Expecting consumers to save their plastic bags and return them to the store without any incentive to do so is unrealistic. 

The city of Chicago also attempted to use recycling to curb environmental harm.  According to the Retailers’ Rules, Rule 47 explicitly states that “[i]f a Store offers Plastic Carryout Bags, the Store ‘MUST’ provide on premises an easily visible and marked Bin for collecting the bags for recycling.”[xxvi]  This recycling system like the one in California, is dependent upon the voluntary actions of the consumers in order to be effective regulation. 

To further complicate the problem, instituting a recycling program is problematic from a technical stand point.  Recycling plastics is a very meticulous process.[xxvii]  If just one single item of plastic is dirty, that one item will contaminate the entire bale.[xxviii]  This results in many bales of plastics having to be disposed of in the trash rather than recycled and reused.[xxix]  Another technical problem with recycling single-use plastic bags is that the bags frequently get tangled in the machinery, and require tedious maintenance hours to remove.[xxx]  This has led to most recycling centers opting not to accept single-use plastic bags.[xxxi] 

  1. A Review of Potential Solutions That Were Implemented in Other Cities

The discussion contained in this section will review San Francisco’s, Manhattan Beach’s, the District of Columbia’s, Ireland’s, and New York City’s plastic bag ordinances.  Further it will describe the scope of the ordinance, its potential impact, any deficiencies, and possible fixes to any deficiencies.

  1. San Francisco

Initially, San Francisco wanted to mandate that retailers charge consumers a fee whenever a plastic bag was distributed, but the state of California enacted the “Plastic Bag and Litter Reduction Act,” which prohibited charging such fees.[xxxii]   San Francisco subsequently determined the only other viable option was a ban.[xxxiii]  The City required that all retailers only distribute compostable plastic and recyclable paper bags.[xxxiv]  This ban looks good at first glance, but upon deeper analysis three major issues arise.

First, compostable plastic like non-compostable plastic, requires solar radiation to decompose, and because the compostable plastic shopping bags are still light weight they become part of the litter problem.[xxxv]  Second, compostable plastic bags have little if any effect at all on changing consumer shopping behavior, since compostable shopping bags are still a “use-and-toss” method.[xxxvi]  Third, paper bags are larger and heavier than plastic bags so they cover a larger portion of landfills, and the decomposition process of paper bags release more greenhouse gases into the environment than plastic bags.[xxxvii] 

In 2010, legislators in San Francisco decided to pass an amendment to the plastic bag ban to impose a ten-cent charge on the recyclable paper and reusable bags, but the adoption of the amendment was put on hold due to the legal battle that was ongoing in Manhattan Beach, California.[xxxviii]

  1. Manhattan Beach

In 2008, the city of Manhattan Beach decided to enact a plastic bag ban.[xxxix]  The ban declared that plastic bags should not be distributed at any point-of-sale terminal within the city.[xl]  According to city officials since there would not be any significant impact on the environment, they determined that they were exempt from complying with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).[xli]  The CEQA required that an environmental impact report (EIR) be completed prior to enacting any law that would have a significant impact on the environment.[xlii]  Manhattan Beach had a small population and a small amount of retail businesses, so the California Supreme Court determined that the plastic bag ban would have negligible effect on the environment.[xliii]  Accordingly, the Court ruled that the City was not required to perform an EIR prior to enacting its plastic bag ban.[xliv] 

Manhattan Beach withstood all legal challenges brought against its plastic bag ban.  However, the attorney for Save the Plastic Bag Coalition informed the public that they will continue to ensure that any large city which enacts a plastic bag ban had conducted an EIR prior to the enactment.[xlv]  Plastic industry groups opted to utilize the EIR requirement as a weapon to hamper enactments of plastic shopping bag ordinances in California.[xlvi]  Due to the high costs associated with the process of creating an EIR, many cities abandoned their legislation endeavors.[xlvii]

  1. Washington, D.C.

In 2009, legislators in Washington, D.C. enacted the “Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act.”[xlviii]  The Act’s purpose was to reduce the amount of waste that is thrown into the District’s landfills, and to create a fund to help pay for remedial actions to clean up the Anacostia River.[xlix]  This purpose is carried out via a penalty fee of five cents charged to consumers that opt to have a retailer distribute a disposable plastic bag.[l] 

A survey was conducted in the winter and spring of 2013 to determine the effectiveness of the plastic bag ordinance.[li]  Businesses surveyed reported that the amount of disposable bags they distributed dropped by half.[lii]  The consumers who participated reported that they regularly carry reusable shopping bags.[liii]  Although the supporters of the ordinance had estimated collecting over $3 million from the penalty fee, the ordinance was rapidly effective at changing residents’ shopping behavior so the realized amount of revenue would be less.[liv] 

As for the consumers, there is a split in perspective with some believing it is to reduce disposable bag consumption, and the rest believing it is merely another means for legislators to raise revenue.[lv]  Regardless of the differing views among consumers as to the purpose of the Act, the evidence proves that the ordinance was successfully implemented and enforced.

  1. Ireland

The events that played out in Washington, D.C. are very similar to what occurred in Ireland.  Due to the prevalence of single-use plastic bags among the beautiful fields and meadows of the country, the Irish government enacted a plastic bag tax in 2002.[lvi]  Termed “Plastax”[lvii] it mandated that a fifteen-cent per bag tax be applied to each retail transaction where plastic shopping bags were distributed.[lviii]  The Irish government was aware of the “tragedy of the commons” dilemma and knew that although in the abstract residents were in a favor of a cleaner environment, they would not want to swallow the cost of attaining a cleaner environment.[lix]  This is why it was important to set the tax at an amount that would greatly affect consumers’ shopping behavior.[lx]  The impact of the plastax resulted in a 94 percent reduction of distributed plastic bags.[lxi]

Two key lessons can be gleaned from the fee charging option utilized by D.C. and Ireland.  First, in order to effectuate change in consumers’ shopping behavior, the tax or fee must be set at a price-point that would cause shock on the part of the consumer.[lxii]  Second, the focus of the tax or fee must be on changing consumer behavior and not on generating revenue.[lxiii]  As both cases have proven, once consumers are shocked into change a drastic decrease occurs in the amount of plastic bags that are distributed. 

  1. New York City

As one can deduce, the consistent theme among plastic shopping bag regulation, has been either to ban distribution of plastic bags or to charge a fee.  After seeing how the litigation scene played out across California due to bans on plastic bags, New York City Council decided to implement a regulatory ten-cent tax “on all [shopping bags] distributing at a point-of-sale.”[lxiv]  Researchers have determined that of the two regulatory options, “[c]harges have a greater impact on” reducing distribution of shopping bags because it gives consumers incentive to change their shopping behavior.[lxv] 

However less than a week after the City enacted its bag ban, the New York Senate introduced Bill S7336, which prohibits “the imposition of any tax, fee or local charge on carry out merchandise bags.”[lxvi]  The current status of the Bill, is that it passed the Senate on June 7, 2016.[lxvii]  If the Governor signs the Bill, then all of the City’s efforts would be rendered meaningless.  Other municipalities that have yet to enact plastic bag ordinances, would benefit from waiting to see how this matter is resolved.

  1. Examination of the Chicago Plastic Bag Ordinance

In August 2015, the City of Chicago enacted a plastic bag ordinance which bans the distribution of single-use plastic carryout bags.[lxviii]  In the definitions section of the ordinance a plastic carryout bag is defined as “made predominantly of plastic derived from either petroleum or a biologically based source . . .”[lxix]  A reusable bag is defined as, “designed and manufactured for multiple reuse . . . has a minimum lifetime of 125 uses . . . [carry] a minimum of 22 pounds 125 times over a distance of at least 175 feet.”[lxx]  The biggest surprise in the definition of reusable bag is that plastic bags are allowed, as long as they are at least 2.25 mils thick.[lxxi]  Retail stores are required to provide reusable, recyclable paper, or commercially compostable plastic bags.[lxxii]  Penalties for violating the ordinance ranges from $300 to $500 per offense for each day the violation continues.[lxxiii]  The ordinance also incorporates a mandatory recycling program that retailers must institute if they distribute any form of carryout bags.[lxxiv]

  1. Will the Ordinance be effective at decreasing plastic bag consumption, and reducing environmental harm?

The salient deficiencies are present in the definition of a reusable bag, and in the section that provides what types of carryout bags are required.  As previously discussed in this comment, when the option of regulation is a ban, all forms of carryout bags must be prohibited for the ban to be effective.[lxxv]   Otherwise, if consumers are left with the option to use recyclable paper bags, then they will just swap one disposable bag option for the other.[lxxvi]  Furthermore, researchers have concluded that paper bags are just as harmful to the environment as plastic bags.[lxxvii]  As for compostable plastic bags, this failure was highlighted in San Francisco when it was determined that compostable bags also require direct solar radiation to decompose just like single-use plastic bags.[lxxviii]

The other salient deficiency is the availability of cheap plastic bags that are compliant with the ban.[lxxix]   Reusable plastic bags are heavier, and would require a longer time to decompose at landfills.[lxxx]  Most likely, this cheap alternative will perpetuate the “throw-away” consumer culture, and thus will not affect consumer behavior or improve the environment.[lxxxi]  Further, unless the bag ordinance mandates that the retailers charge a fee to distribute the reusable plastic bags, these heavier plastic bags will be distributed free of charge to the consumer and will be used and tossed.[lxxxii]

The reusable plastic bag may have been meant as a strategy to appease the plastic manufacturers.  It is a reasonable deduction that Chicago’s ordinance would include reusable plastic bags to keep a profit generating market available for the plastic manufacturers.  This results in little incentive for plastic proponents to legally challenge the ordinance.  Such an option avoids the litigation situation that occurred in Manhattan Beach due to a bag ordinance which banned all forms of plastic bags, which essentially eviscerated substantial market profits.[lxxxiii]  Similar to California, Illinois’ environmental act mandates that prior to instituting binding rules, the pollution board is required to conduct an economic impact study.[lxxxiv]  The third district appellate court has declared that legislature’s intent behind the economic impact study was to create accountability “to the people of the State of Illinois.”[lxxxv]  Thus, Illinois Environmental Protection Act (IEPA) may provide standing for plastic proponents that can show they suffered an economic injury as a result of the Chicago plastic bag ordinance.[lxxxvi]  It would therefore be prudent to continue to allow reusable plastic bags as an effort to discourage potential costly litigation.

Research has shown that to effectively change consumer behavior, the consumer must be made to feel the negative externality costs that consuming plastic carryout bags imposes on society.[lxxxvii]  The “polluter pays principle” asserts that “the polluter should pay for environmental recovery, [reducing] pollution, and victim’s damages.[lxxxviii]  Following up on this polluter pays concept, governments have turned to market-based instruments (“MBIs”) (called green taxes) to effectuate consumer behavioral change.[lxxxix]  The success behind MBIs is that they create an incentive for both consumers and producers to change their behaviors to a “more eco-efficient” option of which they will not inherent a charge for consuming.[xc]  If green taxes are high enough, the incentive for behavioral change is created.[xci] 

Although both D.C. and Ireland were successful in implementing their green tax, such an action would be problematic at the city level since only the state government has the power to tax.[xcii]  A possible solution to this tax limitation is to simply call it a fee, and let the retail establishments retain all the fees collected.[xciii]  The county of Los Angeles was able to successfully uphold its bag ordinance that imposed a fee of ten-cent ($.10) for each carryout bag distributed.[xciv]  The appellate court held that the bag fee regardless of being mandated by the government “was not a revenue generat[ing] measure,” since the fee was retained by a private entity.[xcv]

  1. Plausible Options that Can Remedy the Effectiveness of the Chicago Bag Ordinance

  1. Paper Bags Must Be Prohibited

The first notable deficiency within the Chicago bag ordinance is the lack of mention regarding a ban on paper bags.[xcvi]  On the face of the ordinance, it explicitly states that the purpose behind enacting this plastic bag ban is “to reduce the toxicity of waste materials” which end up in the City’s landfills.[xcvii]  Toxicity means “of poison or poisonous.”[xcviii]  Further, poison is defined as a “substance causing an organism death or injury.”[xcix]  Therefore, it is clear that city officials have determined that the abundance of single-use plastic bag waste is poisonous to the Chicago environment.  It is then incompatible for the city officials to determine that recyclable paper bags are a safer option, especially since there is empirical evidence regarding the toxic harm that using paper shopping bags causes to the environment.[c]  Research has shown that at all stages of a recyclable paper bag’s life it produces far more unrealized externalities into the environment than that of plastic bags.[ci]

In addition, allowing retailers to distribute recyclable paper bags at the point of checkout without any realized cost to the consumer would not result in a positive environmental effect.[cii]  In essence, allowing retailers the option of giving consumers paper bags just replaces one problem with that of another.[ciii]  Although, the cost of recyclable paper bags is much higher than that of plastic, retailers will just increase prices so that the consumers will be the ones absorbing that additional costs.[civ]  Since consumers do not know about this upcharge upon checkout, there is no incentive to change their wasteful tendencies.  The most effective bag ban ordinances also ban single-use recyclable paper bags.[cv]  Anything less will not substantially reduce environmental harm, and will unnecessarily increase retailers’ costs of operation.[cvi]

  1. Mandate That A Fee Is Charged For Distributing Reusable Bags

Chicago City Council should consult the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act, which requires D.C. consumers to pay a penalty fee of five cents ($.05) for each disposable bag that a retailer issues to them.[cvii]  The D.C. bag ban also included recyclable paper bags in the penalty fee charge, and averted any potential tax challenge by mandating that the retailer keep one cent ($.01) of each penalty fee and deposit the remainder into the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund.[cviii]  Prior to 2014, D.C. had been the only municipality to have successfully enacted such a bag ban.[cix]  Then in August of 2013, the country’s most populous city, New York, successfully enacted its bag ban, which requires a ten cents ($.10) charge on all shopping bags provided at checkout including plastic, paper and reusable.[cx]  Charging a penalty fee for all shopping bags also solves the problem of having retailers provide thicker plastic carryout bags at the point of checkout, because consumers will be reluctant to want to pay a penalty.  It essentially creates a disincentive to consumer pollution.[cxi]

  1. Offer a Credit Rebate

Another option to a penalty fee would be a credit rebate offered to consumers who bring their owner reusable shopping bags.  In Rhode Island, the legislature proposed an amendment to its health and safety act after noticing that recyclable paper bags would not result in decreasing externalities.[cxii]  The proposal suggested the addition of promoting reusable bags, and determined that the best method to encourage consumers to bring their own reusable bags would be to offer them a credit rebate of three cents ($.03) for each bag on each purchase.[cxiii]  The proposed amendment at first glance appears to offer an effective solution, but upon deeper analysis the credit amount is inefficient to incentivize consumers to change their behavior.[cxiv]  Furthermore, the $.03 credit rebate is a disincentive to retailers to promote the use of reusable bags.  So if this option is to become effective, further economic research is required to determine an optimal credit amount, and the best method for governments to use to reimburse retailers’ costs.

For the stated reasons, it appears that charging the consumer a fee to consume a plastic bag solves the “tragedy of the commons” dilemma.  The average charges range in amount from five cents ($.05) to ten cents ($.10), but some cities like Brownsville, Texas implement higher charges ($1.00).[cxv]  In electing the charge option, the legislator will have to determine the dollar amount that its political environment would acquiesce to, as well as also being higher enough to effectively change consumers’ behavior.

However, if the city of Chicago is to achieve a socially optimal policy solution through the implementation of a plastic bag fee, city officials “must first identify the scope and nature of the [pollution] problem.”[cxvi]  This requires collaborating with environmental researchers and economists to determine the actual social cost of each plastic bag that is borne by Chicago residents.[cxvii] 

  1. Broaden the Scope of Regulated Entities

Chicago’s bag ordinance currently exempts all restaurants and any stores that are not part of a chain.[cxviii]  A chain organization is defined as any franchise establishments, and any companies that own three or more stores.[cxix]  Limiting the focus to chain organization poses a potential problem of owners restructuring their companies in a manner that could alleviate it from the ordinance’s obligations.

According to the 2014 Census data, there are more than 2.7 million people residing in Chicago, and according to City data there are more than seven thousand restaurants which get visited by the more than 2.7 million residents and nearly 40 million tourists yearly.[cxx]  These stark numbers argue in favor of extending the plastic bag ordinance to also include restaurants that provide take-out delivery.  However, prior to considering the extension city officials will have to determine if any of Illinois’ health and safety statutes preempts the city from instituting such regulation.[cxxi]

  1. Create Political Allegiances with Neighboring Municipalities

Researchers’ analysis of the effects of plastic bag ordinances have highlighted that the most successful ordinances have been implemented country and district wide.[cxxii]  Since the state of Illinois has not enacted a statute which mandates a penalty fee for the distribution of paper or reusable bags at the point of sale, and because the city of Chicago is bordered by other populous cities that have the same retailers it would be prudent to build a coalition with those other municipalities.  By having other closely located municipalities enact the same or substantially similar plastic bag ordinances the effectiveness of decreasing unrealized environmental externalities as well as changing consumer behavior will be maximized.

  1. Conclusion

Single-use plastic bag regulation will continue to be a relevant issue among state and federal legislatures, as has been evidenced by the recent bill proposals submitted by state officials.[cxxiii]  This trend is not likely to dissipate in the near future, if at all.  On a recent vacation to Palm Springs, California my mother, Tracy, returned from a trip to a local Wal-Mart astonished that she had been charged a ten cents ($.10) fee for each bag that was distributed to her.  Evidence of the rapid change in behavior was witnessed when each time we endeavored to tour the city, Tracy made sure that we packed tote bags in the trunk of the car in the event we decided to make any purchases.[cxxiv]  This sole illustration helps to show how such a small fee of $.10 can cause such shock to a consumer’s conscience that it results in almost instantaneous behavioral change.

Since plastic bag ordinances which incorporate a penalty fee be charged to the consumer for the distribution of any plastic, paper, or reusable bag is growing popularity, Chicago’s City Council should amend the plastic bag ordinance mandating that retailers charge a fee for all bags distributed at point of sale.

[i] Rebecca Fromer, COMMENT: Concessions of a Shopaholic: An Analysis of the Movement To Minimize Single-Use* Shopping Bags from the Waste Stream and a Proposal for State Implementation in Louisiana, *For the purposes of this Comment, I adopt the definition of "single-use bag" utilized by the District of Columbia in its Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act of 2009, D.C. Code § 8-102.01 (2001): a bag "of any material, commonly plastic or kraft paper, which is provided to a consumer at the point of sale to carry purchases.", 23 Tul. Envtl. L.J. 493, 496 (2010).

[ii] Id.

[iii] Id. at 495-496.

[iv] Jessica R. Coulter, NOTE: A sea change to change the sea: stopping the spread of the pacific garbage patch with small-scale environmental legislation, 51 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 1959, 1960 (2010).

[v] Id. 

[vi] Samantha Weinstein, COMMENT: Main Ingredient in “Marine Soup”: Eliminating Plastic Bag Pollution Through Consumer Disincentive, 40 Cal. W. Int’l L.J. 291, 298 (2010).

[vii] Id. at 294-296; Coulter, supra note 4, at 1973.

[viii] Newsweek Staff, Plastic Industry Battles Grocery Bag Bans, Newsweek, Mar. 12, 2008,

[ix] Charles Proctor, Compostable Bags No Solution for L.A. Area: The county and city lack the infrastructure to copy S.F.'s answer to plastic­sack pollution., L.A. Times, April 10, 2007, local/me­bags10.

[x] Jennie R. Romer & Shanna Foley, ARTICLE: A wolf in sheep's clothing: the plastics industry's "public interest" role in legislation and litigation of plastic bag laws in California, 5 Golden Gate U. Envtl. L.J. 377, 400.

[xi] Chp. 4 Envtl. Protection & Cont, Chp. 30 Plastic Bag & Film Plastic Recycling Ordinance.

[xii] Id. at § 11-4-4020. 

[xiii] Fromer, supra note 1, at 497.

[xiv] Coutler, supra note 4, at 1980. 

[xv] Fromer, supra note 1, at 499.

[xvi] Id.

[xvii] Id.

[xviii] Coulter, supra note 4, at 1964.

[xix] Id.

[xx] Id.

[xxi] Adam Akullian, Caroline Karp, Kemen Austin & Drew Durbin, Plastic Bag Externalities And Policy In Rhode Island, Brown Policy Rev., ¶3-4 (Fall 2006).

[xxii] Coutler, supra note 4, at 1990.

[xxiii]  2007 Ill. SB 303. 

[xxiv] Coutler, supra note 4, at 1991.   

[xxv] Id. 

[xxvi] Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek, City of Chicago Rules: Retailer’s Rules, ¶18 (July 28, 2015).

[xxvii] Weinstein, supra note 6, at 299-300.

[xxviii] Id.

[xxix] Id.

[xxx] Id.

[xxxi] Fromer, supra note 1, at 499; Id. at 301.

[xxxii] Id. at 658.

[xxxiii] Id.

[xxxiv] Id.

[xxxv] Bridget M. Warner, NOTE: Sacking the Culture of Convenience: Regulating Plastic Shopping Bags to Prevent Further Environmental Harm, 40 U. Mem. L. Rev. 645, 658.

[xxxvi] Id. at 659.

[xxxvii] Weinstein, supra note 6, at 302.

[xxxviii] Romer & Foley, supra note 10, at 401.

[xxxix] Press Release, Stephen Joseph, Save the Plastic Bag Coal. on The Supreme Court’s Decision in the Manhattan Beach Case (July 14, 2011) (on file with author).

[xl] Save the Plastic Bag Coal. v. City of Manhattan Beach, 52 Cal. 4th 155, 160 (2011).

[xli] Id. at 161.

[xlii] Id.

[xliii] Id. at 172.

[xliv] Id. at 176.

[xlv] Joseph, supra note 39.

[xlvi] Romer & Foley, supra note 10, at 412.

[xlvii] Id.  At a minimum the cost of an EIR is approximately $100,000.

[xlviii] Fromer, supra note 1, at 506.

[xlix] Id. at 507.

[l] Id.

[li] Opinion Works, Llc, Ddoe/Alice Ferguson Foundation, D.c. Resident And Business Bag Use Surveys ¶1 (2013).

[lii] Id. at ¶10.

[liii] Id. at ¶7.

[liv] Fromer, supra note 1, at 508.

[lv] Opinion Works, LLC, supra note 51, at ¶8.

[lvi] Frank Convery, Simon Mcdonnell & Susana Ferreira, The Most Popular Tax In Europe? Lessons From The Irish Plastic Bags Levy, Springer Science & Business Media ¶3 (2006).

[lvii] Warner, supra note 35, at 663.

[lviii] Convery, et al. supra note 56, at ¶5.

[lix] Id. at ¶6.

[lx] Id.

[lxi] Id. at ¶7

[lxii] See Convery, et al. supra note 56, at ¶10.

[lxiii] See generally, Warner, supra note 35, at 663; See also, Weinstein, supra note 6, at 311.

[lxiv] Jennie R. Romer & Leslie Mintz Tamminen, Plastic Polution (sic): Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinances:  New York City’s Proposed Charge on All Carryout Bags as a Model for U.S. Cities, 27 Tul. Envt’l. L.J. 237, 240 (2014).

[lxv] Id. at 246.

[lxvi] Senate Bill S7336, available at,

[lxvii] Id.

[lxviii] Plastic Bag & Film Recycling Ordinance § 11-4-4000. 

[lxix] Id.

[lxx] Id.

[lxxi] Id.

[lxxii] Plastic Bag & Film Recycling Ordinance § 11-4-4030.

[lxxiii] Id. at § 11-4-4050.

[lxxiv] Id. at § 7-30-020.

[lxxv] Warner, supra note 35, at 661.

[lxxvi] Id. 

[lxxvii] Coutler, supra note 4, at 1978. 

[lxxviii] Proctor, supra note 9.

[lxxix] Warner, supra note 35, at 669.

[lxxx] Id.

[lxxxi] Weinstein, supra note 6, at 329. 

[lxxxii] Romer & Tamminen, supra note 64, at 253.

[lxxxiii] Save the Plastic Bag Coal., 52 Cal. 4th 155, 160. 

[lxxxiv] 415 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/27(b)(1).

[lxxxv] Citizens Utilities Co. v. Ill. Pollution Control Bd., 134 Ill. App. 3d 111, 116 (1985).

[lxxxvi] See generally, Romer & Tamminen, supra note 64, at 243-245

[lxxxvii] Warner, supra note 35, at 667-668. 

[lxxxviii] Weinstein, supra note 6, at 305.

[lxxxix] Id. at 303.

[xc] European Environment Agency, Using The Market For Cost-Effective Environment Policy ¶5 EEA Report No1 (2006).

[xci] Weinstein, supra note 6, at 304.

[xcii] Romer & Tamminen, supra note 64, at 247.

[xciii] Id. at 248.

[xciv] Id.

[xcv] Id.

[xcvi]  Plastic Bag & Film Recycling Ordinance §11-4-4030

[xcvii] Id. at ¶1.

[xcviii] The Oxford New Desk Dictionary And Thesaurus, Berkley Books, ¶888 (3rd Ed. 2009).

[xcix] Id. at ¶637.

[c] Fromer, supra note 1, at 496; Warner, supra note 35, at 662 ft. nt. 98.

[ci]  Akullian, et al. supra note 21, at ¶2. 

[cii] Warner, supra note 35, at 661.

[ciii] Id.

[civ] Romer & Tamminen, supra note 64, at 244. 

[cv] Id.

[cvi] Id.

[cvii] Fromer, supra note 1, at 507.

[cviii]  Id.

[cix] Id.

[cx] Romer & Tamminen, supra note 64, at 240; The New York City Council §16-491 ¶4, available at (Jan. 22, 2016).

[cxi] Id. at 253.

[cxii] Akullian, et al. supra note 21, at ¶2; R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-18.11-3.

[cxiii] R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-18.11-3.[cxiv] Id. at ¶4.

[cxv] Romer & Tamminen, supra note 64, at 251.  

[cxvi] R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-18.11-3, ¶3.

[cxvii] Id.

[cxviii] Plastic Bag & Film Recycling Ordinance §11-4-4010. 

[cxix]  Id.

[cxx] U.s. Census Bureau, Chicago Quick Facts, at ¶1, available at (Oct. 14, 2015); See also, City Of Chicago, Facts & Statistics, available at (Feb. 14, 2016).

[cxxi] Romer & Tamminen, supra note 64, at 249-250. 

[cxxii] Warner, supra note 35, at 677-678. See Akullian, et al., supra note 21, at ¶7; See also, Fromer, supra note 1, at 507; See generally, Coulter, supra note 4, at 1987.

[cxxiii]See 2010 Plastic Bag Legislative Tracking Report, available at See generally, Hawaii’s plastic bag ordinance 2015 Bill Text HI H.B. 1507; See generally, Virginia plastic bag ordinance 2016 Bill Text VA S.B. 720.

[cxxiv] Ordinance No. 1849 available at (Feb. 14, 2016). Palm Springs Municipal Code prohibits any retail store from distributing single-use plastic bags at the point of sale, and further requires that a $.10 fee be charged to the consumer for each recyclable paper bag that is distributed. 

© Sherry Hazel JosephNational Law Review, Volume VI, Number 214

About this Author

Sherry Hazel Joseph, Law Student, DePaul University School of Law
Law Student

Sherry is a 3L student, the managing editor of notes and comments for the Business and Commercial Law Journal, a student representative for the Illinois State Bar Association, and she has had the pleasure of clerking at several law firms during the school year and summer.  Her practice areas of interest are labor, employment and employee benefits law.