Governor proposes tax on plastic bags - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Governor proposes tax on plastic bags

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants lawmakers to pass a statewide tax on plastic bags.

Pritzker wants to tax people five cents for every plastic bag they use when they're shopping.

He claims the tax would generate $19 to $23 million and would reduce the use of plastic bags.

"Waste plastic in our environment is a serious concern posing a grave risk to fish and other wildlife in our water and other natural habitats," Pritzker wrote in his budget report. "An excise tax on plastic bags... is one way Illinois can help to reduce the risk to wildlife."

Supporters of the plastic bag tax say it encourages shoppers to use more environmentally-friendly methods of carrying their goods, either in paper bags or reusable tote bags.

The Neighborhood Co-Op in Carbondale stopped using traditional plastic bags a decade ago, according to branch manager Amy Dion.

"We're trying to be as green as we possibly can," Dion said.

Dion said the store also has a charity promotion: Each time someone comes in with their own bag, the co-op donates money to either the Carbondale Science Center or the Hospice of Southern Illinois.

"It's a way of supporting our community and these programs that are helping the people who reside in our region here as well as to encourage good environmental habits."

Some of the people News 3 spoke with at the Murdale Shopping Center in Carbondale support the plastic bag tax for environmental reasons.

"Well, this is a beautiful area. When you drive around here, you see plastic bags stuck in the trees and along the roadsides, and we don't need that in southern Illinois," Kelly Donnigan of Murphysboro said. "I have my own bags in the back of my Jeep and everyone else can do that. It's not a big deal."

Others, like Lavon Donley-Cornett of Carterville, look at it as just another tax increase.

"I know the state needs money, but taxing plastic bags really seems reaching," Donley-Cornett said.

She also admits she'll try avoiding the tax by using her own bags if the tax is approved by lawmakers.

If approved by lawmakers, Illinois would become the first state to tax plastic bags, although California bans the use of most of them.

A few cities already tax plastic bags, including Chicago, which has a tax of seven cents per bag.

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