According to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, grocery stores in Illinois are temporarily banning customers from bringing their own reusable bags for shopping because single-use plastic minimizes the risk of spreading the coronavirus to other people. Other governors follow suit.
Temporary Reusable Bag Ban Amid Pandemic
For the many locals and residents of Chicago, bringing a reusable bag every time they go out to shop for essentials means that they get to avoid that 7-cent tax per plastic or paper bag that’s usually applied at the checkout, which is actually part of the state’s effort in reducing waste.
And as more and more states are being deemed as hotspots for the coronavirus, it’s only natural that Chicago isn’t alone in this new bag policy. For example, Maine Gov. Janet Mills decided to delay the soon-to-be-implemented ban on single-use plastic bags, while New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu prohibited shoppers from bringing their own reusable bags to stores in order to protect the vulnerable workers. In fact, the Plastics Industry Association also asked for support in single-use plastics, claiming that reusable grocery bags will only worsen the pandemic.
“As the coronavirus spreads across the country, single-use plastics will only become more vital. We live longer, healthier and better because of single-use plastics,” Plastics Industry Association President Tony Radoszewski said in a statement.
The statement come after emerging research revealed that the coronavirus can stick to surfaces and survive there for up to 72 hours, or at least three days. Such surfaces include stainless steel, plastic, cardboard and copper, among many others. However, the viability of the virus on cloth, which is what reusable bags are made of, was not singled out for study. In fact, Massachusetts Bureau of Environmental Health Director Jana Ferguson even said that there’s “no scientific information specific to bags and the ability of reusable bags to be a way to spread coronavirus.”
As such, advocates for reusable bags are questioning these new policies as well as some of the research, with a lot saying that most of them have data that’s been exaggerated to fit an industry agenda.