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Chicago Plastic Bag Ban Ends In 2017; New Bag Tax Delayed Until February

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In 2017, the city will repeal its ban on plastic bags, but will push back a new shopping bag tax by a month.

Starting Jan. 1, the city will end its plastic bag ban after only 16 months.

However, if you need to use a plastic bag at a store, you will have to pay extra for it starting in February.

A new 7-cent-per-bag tax on paper or plastic bags at the checkout counter originally was set to begin on Jan. 1, but city officials decided to push back the implementation date by a month to give business owners more time to integrate the tax into their sales systems.

Five cents from the new tax will go to the city, the other two cents will go to stores.

Some bags given out by stores would be exempt from the new tax, including:

• those provided for prescription drugs;
• bags used to prevent certain food items, such as raw meat, from contaminating other food or merchandise;
• those used to bag loose bulk items like fruit, vegetables, nuts, small hardware, etc.;
• take-out or dine-in bags;
• bags for wrapping prepared food or baked goods at stores;
• those used for holding flowers or potted plants;
• bags containing frozen foods.

Critics of the decision to repeal the plastic bag ban, which started in August 2015 at large chain stores in August of last year, said the measure was working by cutting down on the use of flimsy plastic bags, which often ended up littering streets and getting stuck in trees. The ban expanded to smaller grocery stores in August 2016.

Some supporters of the ban have vowed to push for a total ban on their use. Restaurants were exempted from the original plastic bag ban.

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