Chicago’s bag tax has led to a decrease in the use of disposable bags since it went into effect early last year, but a majority of buyers still use at least one disposable bag per trip, according to a news report. study commissioned by the city.
Before the 7-cent tax on paper and plastic bags came into effect in February 2017, more than 80% of shoppers used at least one disposable bag per trip, according to the study. That figure fell to 54% the year after the tax went into effect – a significant drop, but not enough to erase the fact that more than half of Chicago consumers still use at least one disposable bag every time they go. ‘they go to the store.
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That’s one of the main findings of a study released Thursday by researchers at the University of Chicago and New York University’s Energy and Environment Laboratory, with the consultancy firm at nonprofit ideas42. The study, conducted on behalf of the city, consisted of documenting the use of bags by nearly 25,000 consumers at major grocery chains in and around Chicago.
Researchers found that the number of disposable bags used per person increased from 2.3 bags per trip before the tax to around 1.8 bags per trip since. The decrease was more drastic initially, but declined somewhat over time, according to the study.
Of the buyers who ditched disposable bags when the tax went into effect, half switched to reusable bags, while the other half started using no bags at all.
The new bag tax is part of a city-wide ordinance to restrict the use of disposable bags, which can have long-term environmental effects.
Studies estimate that more than 100 billion plastic bags are used each year in the United States. Although many plastic bags are recyclable, recent studies from the Environmental Protection Agency show that only a small percentage – just over 5% – is actually recycled.
Most plastic bags that aren’t recycled end up in landfills, where estimates suggest they can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.
Studies published by the National Tax Association have shown that taxes like the one adopted in Chicago can lead to a reduction in the use of disposable bags; the overall economic and environmental impacts, however, are still debated.
Five cents of the tax goes to the city and 2 cents to retailers.
Chicago joined Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle as major US cities with taxes on paper and disposable plastic bags.
Contact Alex Ruppenthal: @arupp | [email protected] | (773) 509-5623
Study: Disposable Bag Use Reduced 42% Following Chicago Bag Tax