Could bag fees be coming to St. Charles, Batavia? Towns are looking at proposal

  • A proposal calls for St. Charles and Batavia to implement pay a bag fee to reduce the number of bags going into the waste stream.

    A proposal calls for St. Charles and Batavia to implement pay a bag fee to reduce the number of bags going into the waste stream. File photo

 
 
Updated 4/5/2022 1:56 PM

St. Charles and Batavia shoppers might want to get in the habit of bringing bags with them when they shop.

A proposal is being discussed for St. Charles and Batavia to implement a bag fee to reduce the number of bags going into the waste stream.

 

"We've all heard this before -- think globally, act locally," Loren Nagy, chair of the St. Charles Natural Resources Commission, said in addressing alderpersons at the St. Charles City Council meeting on Monday.

The Natural Resources Commission has been studying the idea of implementing a bag fee. As proposed, there would be a 10 cent fee per bag, matching the fees charged by other communities like Woodstock and Oak Park.

Forty percent would be retained by the retailer and 50% would be retained by the city, Nagy said. The remaining 10% would go to Kane County's Division of Environmental and Water Resources, he said.

A hybrid committee comprised of St. Charles and Batavia residents is looking into the idea of a bag fee.

"Geneva, unfortunately, cannot pass any kind of a fee associated with single bags because they're not home rule," Nagy said. "We anticipate ours and Batavia's are going to be identical. We don't want to have one municipality kind of hanging out there and intentionally drive shoppers to a different municipality. So we want to do this together."

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Nagy said a recent survey showed overwhelming support for implementing a bag fee.

"It was very overwhelming in favor of having a bag fee to reduce the amount of bags that are set out," he said. "The other thing that I was surprised at is that it was also overwhelming to accept a bag ban, which, from my perspective, is kind of unwieldy."

He noted that several communities in the state already have bag fees, including Woodstock, Evanston, Oak Park, Edwardsville and the city of Chicago. Oak Park's bag fee went into effect in 2018.

Since the fee went into effect, Oak Park has seen "a significant reduction in the number of bags that were sent out," Nagy said.

On its website, Oak Park notes the program was needed because single-use shopping bags -- both paper and plastic -- "consume enormous amounts of natural resources in their manufacture, create damaging, unsightly pollution when improperly disposed of and add to the administrative costs of a retail business."

As Nagy noted, the state legislature has been looking at implementing a bag fee. In response to a question from an alderperson, there would be exemptions to the initiative, such as for festivals and pharmaceuticals.

Bags used to contain or wrap a perishable grocery item also would be exempt, he said.

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