Friends: Proposed City Ordinance to Reduce Plastics a Plus for Chicago River System

Friends of the Chicago River was proud to join Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) and a host of environmental groups at Chicago's City Hall this week to announce an ordinance to combat plastic pollution.

"The Chicago River has improved tremendously in recent years but litter remains a stubborn, though solvable, problem," said Friends of the Chicago River Executive Director Margaret Frisbie. "Litter not only affects water quality but wildlife as well, with studies showing that more than 93 percent of fish examined from the Chicago area have some form of plastic present inside them."

Friends' analysis through our Litter Free Chicago River initiative reveals that half of the litter collected in a sampling in the river was related to single-use food packaging. Frisbie said the proposed Plastic-free Water for Chicago ordinance will help advance our call for zero tolerance of litter in the system.

The proposed ordinance would:

  • Require reusable plates and dishes when dining in at restaurants.
  • Allow consumers to bring their own cups.
  • Require single-use plasticware be provided only by request or at a self-serve station.
  • Require recyclable or compostable containers for takeout food
  • Eliminate polystyrene, often used in foam takeout containers and drinking cups.
  • Educate the public about improved recycling and composting practices.

"All of the research points to the gravity of plastic pollution in our waterways. It is time to do the right thing on this issue and protect our communities," Waguespack told reporters at a press conference.

“When I take my kayak or canoe down to the lake or down to the river, one of the things I’m constantly doing is looking at the piles of trash, especially small plastics like straws and bottles that collect in the levies, collect on the sides of the beaches,,” Waguespack said.

Friends joined the Illinois Environmental Council, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Chicago Recycling Coalition, and Illinois PIRG at the announcement.

Click here to urge your alderman and Mayor Lori Lightfoot to support the Plastic-free Water for Chicago ordinance.

Chicago Sun-Times: City Council urged to ban foam food containers and limit plastic forks, knives, straws