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Illinois plastic bag bill vetoed

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn vetoed a bill that would require plastic bag manufacturers to set up collection and recycling programs, calling it a “roadblock” for local communities to make their own choices.

Under Senate Bill 3442, plastic bag manufacturers would have been required to set up recycling programs with the goal of increasing the recycling rate by 12 percent by 2015 and to eventually make bags from at least 30 percent recycled content. It also would have required manufacturers to register with Illinois officials, as retail stores would have been able to use bags only from registered manufacturers. And local municipalities would have been prohibited from enacting their own plastic bag laws, including bans.

Environmentalists did not support the bill. They claimed that the goals set by the law were minimal and that local communities could do more by passing their own laws. Plastic bag manufacturers and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association supported the bill.

Quinn said he wanted to work on a better plan to increase recycling efforts.

“Let’s not tie the hands of innovative Illinois municipalities that are laboratories of reform for Illinois,” Quinn said in a statement. “While well-intentioned, this legislation is a roadblock to innovation that would do little to boost recycling in Illinois. We can do better.”

Dozens of cities nationwide have banned plastic bags, including Los Angeles and Seattle. Some municipalities fine customers who use them because of concerns over petroleum products, littering and animals becoming tangled in or swallowing them.