Chicago repeals plastic bag ban, starts 7-cent bag tax on Feb. 1

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The new 7-cent tax on disposable bags at Chicago stores has been pushed back one month to Feb. 1. (WLS)

The new 7-cent tax on disposable bags at Chicago stores has been pushed back one month to Feb. 1.

The 7-cent tax was approved last month as part of the city's budget. City officials also repealed a ban on plastic bags starting Jan. 1.

The so-called "check out bag tax" applies to all Chicago retailers, not just large grocery chains. Businesses received letters last week informing them of the changes.

The tax applies to both paper and plastic bags. All shoppers who don't have their own bag will be charged 7 cents for each paper or plastic bag at checkout. Five cents will go to the city, 2 cents will go to the retailer.

"That's pretty steep. But hopefully it'll make people take their own bags. I've got all my own bags here so, you know," said Lynette Morse, shopper.

The tax aims to encourage consumers to use reusable bags. Customers who bring their own bags will not have to pay the 7-cent tax.

The tax is a reversal of a partial ban imposed 16 months ago, which forced large retailers to replace thin plastic bags with thicker bags that can be reused. Consumers were not reusing the new bags and they cost three times as much to make.

"They've been banned for a reason, so them coming back, and then they charging for them on top of that, then it doesn't seem right," said Allison Hansen, shopper.

Will a 7-cent tax be enough to change people's habits?

"I've always brought my own bag, so it'll keep it the same. Maybe other people will start bringing their bags after this. You never know," said Norman Morris, shopper.

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