Smaller Stores Need to Watch Out for Little-Known Plastic Bag Law

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On April 24, 2014, Chicago City Council's Environmental Committee unanimously passed a proposed crackdown on plastic grocery bags in Chicago. If City Council passes the law, it would ban most stores from giving out plastic shopping bags in the City of Chicago. The press has repeatedly pointed out that small, independent retailers would initially be exempt under the proposed law.

But that doesn't tell the whole story. There's a little-known Chicago rule that ALREADY apply to most stores, even the small ones. That rule puts a huge responsibility on stores that give away plastic shopping bags. Violations of the rule can ultimately lead to a revocation. Most store owners probably don't even know about it.

The rule is not even in the City Code. It's actually in the little-known City of Chicago "Retailer's Rules and Regulations." It requires most stores (even smaller ones) that offer plastic shopping bags to:

  1. provide a recycling bin for plastic shopping bags.
  2. provide reusable bags in addition to plastic shopping bags.
  3. have the words "PLEASE REUSE OR RECYCLE AT PARTICIPATING STORE" printed on the plastic shopping bags.
  4. maintain an annual report detailing how many plastic bags it recycled during the year. The report has to be submitted electronically to the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection by the end of February every year.

So, while the new plastic bag rule would initially exempt small stores, those stores still have to abide by these burdensome rules.

How many Chicago stores actually live up to these rules? Probably not many. It wouldn't be a big deal except, as mentioned above, these rules can be used to revoke a license.

It's no joke: I have seen these charges used to revoke licenses.

Need more info? Get in touch with us today.

by Daniel Rubinow, Principal Attorney

License Law Group

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Daniel Rubinow