Despite Joan Barenfanger’s best efforts, single-use plastic shopping bags continue to stream out of Springfield’s grocery and retail stores to the tune of an astonishing 16 million bags per year. That number is based on interviews with local store managers, conducted by Barenfanger, whose Better Bag Project seeks to eliminate the litter-prone bags. Barenfanger isn’t encouraged by Senate Bill 3442, which attempts to address the problem through a manufacturer registration program administered by the state. The bill, which awaits the signature of Gov. Pat Quinn, would require bag manufacturers to pay $500 for registration, put their names on bags they make, and create a plan to recycle the bags. It also prevents Illinois retailers from buying bags from unregistered manufacturers starting in 2014. But Barenfanger laments that the bill would also prevent all Illinois cities except Chicago from banning or regulating plastic bags. The penalty for manufacturers or retailers who violate the proposed law would be $1,000, but it would require a lawsuit from the state to collect the fine, which Barenfanger calls “absurdly weak” enforcement. For more information on the Better Bag Project, visit gbns.org/Projects/BetterBagProject.aspx.