City plastic bag ban now in effect

In an effort to reduce plastic waste, the Evanston City Council voted on May 22 to approve a complete ban on plastic bags in all city businesses and impose a $0.10 tax on remaining bag types at large retail stores. The “Retail Single Use Bag Tax”, also known as Ordinance 1-O-23, will go into effect on August 1, 2023.

This ordinance is a by-product of the City’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan (CARP), part of which aims to eliminate petroleum-based, single-use products by phasing out the use of single-use plastics by 2025. Its implementation brings Evanston closer to these environmental goals by encouraging source reduction and minimizing the direct impacts of pollution, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and litter.

How this will impact business owners

Beginning August 1, businesses may no longer distribute single-use point-of-sale plastic bags or plastic pre-checkout (produce) bags. 

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Additionally, all single-use point-of-sale paper bags must be composed of at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled content. Pre-checkout (produce) bags can be made of compostable plastic or 40 percent post-consumer recycled paper. 

All non-restaurant chain retail establishments exceeding 10,000 square feet are required to charge consumers 10 cents for each single-use point-of-sale bag provided, including paper bags. Each qualifying non-restaurant retailer is able to retain half of the tax (5 cents per bag). 

The tax portion of this ordinance does not apply to the following: 

  • Bags provided by a pharmacist that contain prescription drugs
  • Newspaper bags
  • Bags provided by restaurants for prepared carryout or leftover food or drinks
  • Bags that are used to carry items purchased pursuant to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Illinois LINK card, or a similar governmental food assistance program

Prior to the 20th of each month, each qualifying retail establishment must remit the full amount of the fee collected for all single-use, point-of-sale bags provided to consumers during the previous month. View remittance forms.

How this will impact community members and visitors

While the ban part of the ordinance is only expected to affect what types of bags consumers have access to at stores, all community members are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags when they shop. 

The tax portion of the ordinance will apply a listed fee on consumers receipts noting the tax being issued. The tax can be avoided by consumers if they bring their own bags or decline a store bag. 

For more information, visit cityofevanston.org/plasticbagban or please call 847-448-4311.

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