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(Above) A Northern Pike found in the Chicago River in 2013.

2-Feb-20 – A proposed ordinance limiting use of plastic by restaurants will clean up plastic pollution and help the fish, says Friends of the Chicago River.

The ordinance, introduced on January 15 by 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack, would require restaurants to offer only reusable plates and dishes to customers dining in, provide single-use plasticware – including drinking straws – only at self-serve stations or on request, and allow customers to bring their own cups. Takeout food containers would have to be recyclable or compostable.

The environmental organization estimates that 93 percent of fish in Chicago-area rivers have some form of plastic inside them. Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River, says half of the litter in the Chicago River is related to single-use food packaging.

Margaret Frisbie

“The Chicago River has improved tremendously in recent years, but litter remains a stubborn, though solvable, problem,” said Frisbie (left). “Litter not only affects water quality but wildlife as well.”

The Plastic-Free Water Ordinance is sponsored by 19 aldermen, including 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith, and 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman. If approved by the Chicago City Council, it would take effect on January 1, 2021.

 Read the ordinance