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Batavia inches closer to having shopping bag fee

Batavia is a little closer to instituting a fee on single-use shopping bags.

During a committee meeting this week, aldermen instructed the city administrator to prepare an ordinance that could charge as much as 10 cents per plastic or paper bag at stores over 5,000 square feet. They also favored her proposal to hire a local marketing firm to develop an educational campaign encouraging people to stop using single-use paper and plastic bags.

The Batavia Environmental Commission, the St. Charles Natural Resources Commission and Geneva’s Natural Resources Committee have been working together to have a bag fee. But Geneva, which does not have home-rule powers, does not have the authority to institute such a fee.

City Administrator Laura Newman said Batavia has about 20 stores where the fee would be charged. They include the Walgreens store downtown, which is roughly 14,500 square feet, as well as stores such as Target and Walmart, located on Randall Road.

Newman suggested doing an educational campaign first. She said a local firm estimates it could do something for about $10,000.

But Alderman Abby Beck said a campaign alone would not work. “Most people know in 2022 that these plastic bags are bad,” she said. Beck said she has researched the issue and that found education alone didn’t have a large impact on the number of bags used, but fees did.

Alderman Nick Cerone was concerned about Batavia being the only town to institute a bag fee and said he preferred to delay a fee until the city sees the results of the campaign. He was concerned about shoppers going to another town that doesn’t have a fee.

“That is just a boogeyman,” resident Susan Russo said. She said she doesn’t believe people are going to go shop in Geneva or North Aurora just because they were charged $1 for 10 bags in Batavia.

Russo urged the council to make “a bold statement” by being the first city in the area to have a bag fee. Beck and Alderman Sarah Vogelsinger noted that Batavia had signed the Greenest Region Compact, vowing to adopt practices to improve the environment. “This is something we can do to show that we are serious about that compact,” Vogelsinger said.

No date is set for voting on the proposals.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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