Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed a plastic bag recycling bill that would have made it more difficult for most communities in the state to ban single-use plastic bags.
Quinn vetoed the bill Aug. 26. The legislation had been supported by some plastic bag manufacturers.
“While well-intentioned, this legislation is a roadblock to innovation that would do little to boost recycling in Illinois. We can do better,” Quinn said in a statement. “Let's not tie the hands of innovative Illinois municipalities that are laboratories of reform for Illinois.”
The bill would have prevented all communities in Illinois except Chicago from banning single-use plastic bags.
The bill had attracted nationwide attention, with environmentalists lining up against it, even though it would have aimed to increase recycling of plastic bags and other plastic films.
The veto is a victory for Abby Goldberg, a 13-year-old from Grayslake, Ill., who had launched a petition drive against the bill. Goldberg wanted her community to ban plastic bags, and in July she personally delivered a petition with more than 150,000 signatures urging the veto.
On Aug. 26, Goldberg sent a message to her Twitter followers that the battle is not over.
“OK, thanks are done, time to role up our sleeves again!” she wrote to backers who were congratulating her on the victory. “Encourage [Illinois] legislators to not override veto!!!!!!” she wrote.
The veto is a loss for the plastics industry, which had supported the bill.
Steve Russell, vice president of the American Chemistry Council's plastics division, said in an Aug. 27 statement: “We all agree that more needs to be done to prevent litter, and education and access to recycling coupled with litter prevention programs are proven solutions. Product bans, which are currently being considered in some smaller Illinois jurisdictions, only succeed in replacing one form of litter with another.”
David Asselin, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, recently said the bill was “good for our environment and good for Illinois' economy,” in a letter to the Springfield, Ill., Journal Register.
“What's more, it was based on the optimistic notion that middle ground can be found, that compromises in legislation are still possible, and that they work. Policy can work to the benefit of all involved when entrepreneurs and government work together. This is how policy should be made,” Asselin wrote.
The bill would have forced bag manufacturers to register with the state, pay a $500 registration fee and develop a plan to recycle the bags. According to the bill, at least 75 percent of the state's population would be required to live within 10 miles of a plastic bag recycling drop-off area by 2014. That number rises to 80 percent in 2015.
Also, the percentage of recycled plastic bags would have increased by 12 percent between 2014 and 2015. If the recycling increase fell short, manufacturers would have had to detail why it was not met.