Illinois city tries out bag recycling
By Henry Leineweber, Resource Recycling
One city's bag ordinance could serve as a blueprint for plastic bag recycling in Illinois.
The City of Highland Park recently adopted an ordinance establishing a recycling program for plastic bags in the city. The program builds off of an earlier pilot program in the area which, during its eight months of operation in 2009, collected over 259,000 pounds of plastic bags and film. Despite earlier versions of the proposal recommending a nickel bag fee to accompany the program, the new ordinance only mandates that retail businesses larger than 10,000 square feet implement a program to collect bags for recycling. Businesses are required to provide clearly-marked receptacles for bags and film, install and maintain signage and access, arrange for the pickup and transport of collected material and make reusable bags available for purchase. Businesses can request an exemption for the program if they can show compliance is not financially possible, or if they coordinate their efforts with a nearby retailer.
Both the earlier pilot program and the recently-passed ordinance were developed by the city's Environmental Commission, its Natural Resource Commission and the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO). Should the ordinance prove successful, SWALCO says it may pitch the program to the state legislature for consideration.