News - Kane County

Batavia officials approve plastic bag fee

Batavia plans to institute a fee for using single-use bags, whether they be plastic or paper.

The Batavia City Council voted Nov. 21 to approve an ordinance for a 10-cent fee for single-use plastic bags at 17 businesses within the city.

“This is meant to discourage the use of one-time disposal types of bags, specifically at retail stores, point-of-sale establishments of 5,000 square feet or more,” Alderman Dan Chanzit said. “The fee is meant to be for carryout items of goods that you purchase. It’s not meant to be for restaurants or services like pharmacy orders or dry cleaning, things like that.”

According to meeting documents, the fee will be in effect for 17 qualifying retailers starting July 1. It will 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.

Businesses will receive 4 cents of the 10-cent bag fee, according to documents.

Early in 2023, the city will unveil a six-month informational campaign to prepare shoppers before the new fee goes into effect.

“I think there’s got to be some education and some monitoring so that we can get over all these concerns people have,” Batavia Mayor Jeffery Schielke said.

Schielke said Batavia is the first city in Kane County to implement a bag fee, and that St. Charles and Elgin were considering similar ordinances.

“This has been done in other places, [but] it feels like we’re the first,” Batavia Environmental Commission member Carolyn Burnham said. “We can look at Woodstock, [which has] been doing it for a while. We’ve been looking at Oak Park that’s been doing it for a while.”

The Batavia Environmental Commission proposed the fee. 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.

“In all the research we have seen and that we have, we did not take this lightly when we brought it to you,” Burnham said. “The research that we read said a 10-cent fee seemed to be that mark where it will change behavior without being too onerous.”

Alderman Nicholas Cerone said he and other residents were concerned about the fee’s implementation and unintended consequences.

“I’d rather it be the whole county or Tri-Cities so that we don’t lose that competitive advantage,” he said. “As small as 10 cents is, it multiplies.”

The bag fee’s impact will be evaluated by the City Council after a six-month period.

“If we enact it on 17 businesses and we see, ‘OK, they sold 25,000 bags in the first six months and then the second six months they sell 5,000, we know that’s a huge reduction,” Alderman Alan Wolff said. “We have to see how this implementation works, and if it does work, how do we expand it.”

Daily Herald reporter Susan Sarkauskas contributed to this report.