Statement: Chicago passes industry’s plastic ordinance over environmental opposition

Media Contacts

Watered-down regulation will not properly address city’s single-use plastic problem

Environment Illinois

Chicago — The Chicago City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday to make single-use plastic utensils available by customer request only. However, the regulation, sponsored by Alderperson Samantha Nugent, contains seven exemptions which significantly decrease its impact. Written in coordination with the restaurant industry but without consultation with environmental and plastic reduction advocates, the ordinance passed the full city council today by a vote of 37-10. It did so despite objections from the Coalition for Plastic Reduction, which has been advocating for a much stronger ordinance, the Plastics Free Waters Act, sponsored by Alderperson Scott Waguespack.

In response, Environment Illinois Associate Paloma Paez-Coombe issued the following statement: 

“We are disappointed that the City Council passed a weak restaurant industry bill, which was written without the input of, and passed over objections from, the environmental community.  

“Nothing that we use for five minutes should pollute our environment for hundreds of years. That’s why it’s critical to pass meaningful policy that will reduce plastic entering our environment in the short term while setting a path to phasing out single-use plastic in the long term. 

“This ordinance fails because it’s too limited in scope, has no method of enforcement and contains numerous broad exemptions. Chicago must take meaningful action to reduce single use plastic pollution, not pass watered-down half-measures that don’t address our plastic waste crisis.“