Gov. Pat Quinn vetoes plastic-bag recycling bill

Thirteen-year-old Abby Goldberg from Grayslake, Ill. began supporting a plastic bag ban in seventh grade. About a year later, she fought against a bill that would prevent municipalities from making such bans.

Goldberg created a petition on change.org titled “Governor Quinn: Don’t Let Big Plastic Bully Me!” to oppose a bill in the Illinois senate that would have required plastic manufacturers to set up recycling programs in an effort to increase the recycling rate by 12 percent over the next three years. The bill would also require retail stores to use only registered manufacturers’ products, and it would ban local governments from passing their own laws for plastic bags.

Nearly 175,000 people have signed Goldberg’s petition, and Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed Senate Bill 3442, or “The Plastic Bag Bill,” over the weekend, calling it a “roadblock to innovation” in a press release.

Many in the manufacturing industry were upset the bill did not pass.

But Champaign Mayor Don Gerard said a similar program to this was implemented in Austin, Texas, and it “failed miserably,” so the mayor of Austin eventually banned plastic bags to deal with the environmental problems they caused.

“What they (sponsors of the bill) tried to do is create more big government to keep us from, at the local level, making our own ordinances and our own policies,” Gerard said. “In Illinois, Chicago would have been exempt from this bill. I think they were just trying to take advantage of the rest of the state, and I’m really proud the Governor stood up for us.”

According to a press release, 150 municipalities and the Illinois Municipal League opposed the bill, saying it undermined home rule. Illinois currently has 209 home rule units, which, under the 1970 Illinois Constitution, allows municipalities more control in addressing local problems. Those who opposed the bill said it would weaken this right.

“We think of ourselves (Champaign) as a forward-thinking community with a commitment to being environmentally friendly and green. That is one of our council goals,” Gerard said. “In addition to that, within this particular area (plastic bags) are a problem for us because they clog up our storm water drains, they clog up our storm water creeks, and as these things increase, they never break down. They just continue to clog up things, and farmers in surrounding areas are finding increasingly that these things are clogging up their farm equipment, impeding their ability to farm their land.”

Governor Quinn also said this bill was “well-intentioned” but overall it would do little to boost recycling in Illinois, according to the release. He believes “we can do better.”

_The Associated Press contributed to this report. The reporter can be reached at [email protected]_