Champaign surveys residents about possible fees for plastic bag users

The city of Champaign is conducting a survey about possible fees to be levied against plastic bag users.

The survey is supposed to evaluate the possibility of a plastic bag ban or fee as a way to reduce litter in the community, according to a press release from the city. The survey asks questions about residents’ choices of different kinds of bags at grocery stores and their reasons for using either plastic or paper bags.

Elizabeth Hannan, Champaign’s administrative services manager, said the biggest concern is the environmental effects of plastic bag waste.

“The big concern is litter; plastic bags are lightweight, aerodynamic and they tend to float around the place,” Hannan said.

Hannan added that about 500 people have responded to the survey since it was released on Feb. 7.

“It is not complete yet, but we gave them an option to choose whether the minimal fee was a good option, a ban or to choose something else,” she said. “About 60 percent of the respondents so far felt that either a ban or a fee would be something that they would choose.”

The Students for Environmental Concerns will be meeting with Champaign’s recycling coordinator Angela Adams to talk more about plastic bag waste on Feb. 22. There will also be an opportunity for students to give input to Adams about the plastic bag proposal.

Adams will be able to include this information in her report to the city council, said Amy Allen, senior in Engineering and a member of the Students for Environmental Concerns.

Suhail Ansari, a member of the Illinois Student Senate’s committee on Environmental Sustainability and a sophomore in Engineering, said the restrictions on plastic bags could help Champaign develop its economy.

“No doubt that plastic bags are a huge convenience when you go to the grocery store, you buy a bunch of groceries or when you buy a bunch of textbooks,” Ansari said. “There are really large parcels of land that the city of Champaign would like to see get developed. However, when the property owner brings in the developer … litter is the problem and most of the litter is plastic bags.”