State lawmakers take aim at plastic pollution with package of bills – The Southern

House Bill 5552 and its identical counterpart, Senate Bill 3424, would make Illinois the 11th state with a container deposit program. People would be able to redeem plastic, glass or metal beverage containers for a 5-cent refund paid by the business or a redemption center.

“It’s a good business opportunity where you can make money not only as a commercial enterprise,” said Jennifer Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council.

She added that some people in states with these programs make money by picking up littered bottles.

HB 5552 and SB 3424 would also prohibit restaurants and takeout food services from giving customers single-use plastic utensils unless a customer asks for them.

“I go to a restaurant, they immediately give me a plastic straw. I order takeout, they throw in carryout utensils whether I want them or not,” Walling said. “I would say it is harder to create a lot of waste than it is to reduce your waste right now.”

All four proposals, however, may be a tough sell to businesses and industry groups.

“We’re concerned about the piecemeal approach,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

“You’re putting a tax on every little product,” Karr said. “For consumers, that’s nickel-and-diming them to death and for retailers, you’re making that item much more expensive.”

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