In February of 2017, the City of Chicago introduced a 7 cent tax on each disposable bag used in an effort to cut down on bag waste and to encourage Chicagoans to bring their reusable bags on every shopping trip. Results from a preliminary study by ideas42 and researchers from New York University and the University of Chicago Energy & Environment Lab have shown that the bag tax has already decreased the number of disposable bags used per shopping trip drop by 42%.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was pleased with the results of the bag ta and stated that “I am glad so many Chicagoans are choosing to forgo paper or plastic bags at checkout, and encourage others to help Chicago further reduce disposable bag use in the city. By decreasing our paper and plastic bag use, Chicago is making important progress in reducing our carbon footprint as well as reducing street litter and improving recycling operations.”
The bag tax aligns with efforts drafted under the Sustainable Chicago 2015 plan. the plan represents Mayor Emanuel’s vision to make Chicago a leader in sustainability and focuses on 7 key areas, one of which is Waste and Recycling. The plan also includes efforts that citizens and businesses can take on in order to contribute to Chicago’s sustainability goals.
Other results from the Bag Tax study found that residents using disposable bags decreased by 33% and about half the customers that stopped using disposable bags switched to using reusable bags or stopped using bags altogether. The city of Chicago will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the bag tax and hopes that consumers will continue to use less or no bags at the checkout.