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Chicago Institutes 7-cent Bag Fee

Effective Feb.1, supermarkets in Chicago will add a 7-cent bag fee for every plastic or paper bag used for customers’ groceries. It is the latest attempt by the city to encourage consumers to bring their own bags and cut down on disposable bags that often end up in landfills, noted a Chicago Tribune report. Previously, the city had implemented a complete ban on disposable plastic bags but the effort did not prove effective, according to city officials.

Retailers can decide whether or not to pass along the fee to consumers, but many of the major players in the city, including Jewel-Osco, Whole Foods Market, Mariano’s, Target, CVS, Walgreen and T.J. Maxx, have indicated consumers will pay the whole fee. The 5-cent incentive those retailers already have in place for consumers bringing in their own bags will remain in place.

To help offset the fee, the city will be handing out free, reusable “ChiBags” at seven CTA stations the evening of Feb. 1. Some stores also will be providing free, reusable bags. Jewel-Osco will hand out bags to the first 100 shoppers at stores the Saturday before the fee takes effect; Target will give the first 200 shoppers at each store free bags on Feb. 1 and Whole Foods will hand out 1,000 bags at each store on Feb. 1.

The only exception to the fee is bags used to package bulk items, like produce, nuts, grains and baked products or those used to wrap frozen foods at checkout. Paper prescription bags, dry cleaning bags and takeout bags from restaurants also are excluded. Consumers using SNAP to purchase groceries will not be charged the bag fee.

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