ROCKFORD (WREX) — A new bill in Illinois could place a fee on plastic bags. One Rockford environmentalist says the fee could help fix a bigger issue.
Behind the Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful building in Rockford sits 12 tons of plastic waiting to be recycled or reused.
"We really don't have an outlet to recycle them, that's basically the biggest reason," says Pamela Osborne, Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful Executive Director.
Preventing pile-ups of trash and encouraging the use of reusable plastic bags is the goal of a new Illinois bill, the Carryout Bag Fee Act. If the bill is passed, people who use plastic bags from stores would have to pay ten cents per bag, a fee that has Rockford residents split.
"We need to get rid of some of that plastic," says Randy Horton, Rockford. "If it's just sitting there it's not being recycled and it's going into our waters, yeah we should get rid of it."
"Now they are charging us for every little thing and half of the time we don't know where the money is going to, wherever they say it's going," says Anne Vasquez, Rockford. "I don't know, but I won't approve of it."
Pamela Osborne, Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful Executive Director, says the fee would help fight a bigger issue facing Rockford.
"The biggest issue is people that don't care, that they think they can just throw it away and it's just gone," says Osborne. "They need to dispose of it properly so that we don't have this problem."
92 percent of trash Osborne's volunteers pick up is plastic bags. She says the bags are used for 20 minutes on average, but take 500 to 1,000 years to break down.
"There is no such thing as throwing it away, because there is no away," says Osborne. "It has to be recycled or disposed of properly."
Lawmakers and environmentalists say they are working to break down the use of plastic shopping bags, but the debate still remains whether the Carryout Bag Fee Act will be the best way to make a change.