Plastic forks may soon be a thing of the past in Illinois’ state parks after the legislature passed a bill that could soon be sent to the governor’s desk.
If Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs it, Senate Bill 1915 will require state agencies to contract with suppliers only providing compostable or recyclable foodware in state parks and natural areas.
The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Lake Forest, who said the goal is simple: to reduce waste.
Illinois Environmental Council Executive Director Jen Walling said it shouldn’t cost the state much either.
“So the way that the bill is written, for procurement it cannot be more than 5% greater than the cost of single-use plastics. So it’s a very small amount,” Walling told The Center Square. “With respect to state parks and natural areas, it requires that they offer compostable foodware or recyclable foodware and that is very cost equivalent.”
Studies have shown Illinoisans produce 23% more waste than other states per resident and very little is ever recycled, according to Walling.
“Anything we can do, any step we can take to make sure we’re reducing waste, diverting waste from landfills is really important to protect our environment,” she said.
Plastics in the environment have a huge range of impacts, Walling pointed out.
“First of all, in protecting our natural areas: waste out in the environment doesn’t look good, but it is also something that is injuring our natural resources and causing problems with our wildlife,” she said. “So definitely, just in the form of litter plastics and other materials can kill wildlife.”
But it’s not just about wildlife.
Walling said it’s also about human health.
“There are microplastics that are being found in people’s bloodstreams, in infants, in people’s lungs, and these are all things that we know have long-term health impacts,” she said.
Microplastics can come from the breakdown of larger plastics and Walling said reducing plastic anywhere we can will help reduce their presence.
“We are finding more and more microplastics at the bottom of Lake Michigan, finding microplastics in fish that people are consuming,” she said.
Walling expects the governor will sign the bill.
This article was originally posted on Bill mandates compostable foodware in Illinois state parks