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posted: 8/27/2012 5:00 AM

Attack bag waste problem at source

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I am writing in response to your Aug. 16 editorial, "Industry's four-year chance to prove itself on bag waste." The idea that individual towns will act to address this problem is not just speculation. In fact, some communities have been actively considering their options.

After years of dealing with the blight of plastic bag litter in our community, the Champaign City Council discussed regulating plastic bags earlier this year. We will do so unless pre-empted by an unnecessary restriction in Senate Bill 3442. I believe a source reduction approach will prevent five times more litter and waste in our community than the statewide recycling program proposed in the bill. The proposed program is unlikely to have a measurable impact in a community like Champaign, where all of our residents have easy access to plastic bag recycling, either through a city-sponsored recycling program, or at recycling stations in retail stores.

Using a source reduction approach will remove bags from the waste stream, attacking the problem at its source. This is consistent with state policy, which establishes "volume reduction at the source" as the preferred option for waste management. This bill would prohibit local governments from using the preferred option, in favor of a lower priority strategy.

We must preserve the rights of cities to decide local policy in order to create innovative, effective solutions to the local problems they face. We should not allow outside interests to establish policies for local government. That is the job of our local elected officials. And here in Champaign, we have a plan. Our vision is a future with less plastic bag litter and waste. The governor should by all means use an amendatory veto on this bill, removing the restrictions on home rule authority, and legislators should support him in doing so.

Mayor Don Gerard


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