Starting July 1, shoppers at some stores in Batavia may have to start paying for each single-use bag in which their purchases are placed.
Batavia would be the first community in the Fox Valley to charge the fee of 10 cents per plastic or paper bag. The goal is to get people to stop using single-use bags, especially plastic ones.
“We’re going out there first, and we’re going to do it,” Alderman Alan Wolff said during a committee meeting Tuesday.
“And I think we are going to be successful at it.”
Aldermen voted 11-0 in favor of requiring stores to charge 10 cents per single-use bag. The binding vote will take place at the next city council meeting.
The bag fee would apply to stores that are 5,000 square feet or larger, of which there are 17 in Batavia, according to city administrator Laura Newman. That includes big-box retailers such as Walmart, Kohl’s and Target, as well as an independent grocery store and a large jewelry-and-wine store.
It would not apply to restaurants that use such bags for takeout orders.
The council would review the results of the bag charges on July 1, 2024.
Economic development manager Anthony Isom spoke to retailers about the bag charge.
“Overall, it seems like many of the businesses are in support of it,” but some wanted to know why paper bags are included, Isom said.
The Batavia Environmental Commission, which proposed the fee, says that manufacturing paper bags creates more air and water pollution compared to making plastic bags.
Recycling them also takes more energy than recycling plastic bags. In addition, the commission said it takes a long time for paper bags to decompose in landfills.
The commission worked on the proposal with a natural resources committee from Geneva and St. Charles. It said Geneva can’t impose a bag fee because it does not have home-rule powers, but St. Charles could.
Mayor Jeff Schielke said people have asked him what they are supposed to do if they use plastic bags to pick up their pets’ feces.
Alderman Tony Malay pointed out they could still get a bag by paying 10 cents. He said another option is to buy a roll of biodegradable pet-waste disposal bags.
The stores would keep 4 cents of the bag fee. The city would get the rest.