(CHICAGO) Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that Chicagoans significantly reduced the average number of disposable bags used per shopping trip in the first month of the Checkout Bag Tax, demonstrating measurable success in the City’s effort to reduce paper and plastic bag use in Chicago.
The city implemented a seven-cent tax on plastic and paper bags to help reduce waste, which helps benefit both the local environment and economy.
“We know from our work in behavioral science that while shoppers often want to do the right thing for the environment, they sometimes need a little help, and our team’s study shows clearly that the Checkout Bag Tax is effective in reducing the use of disposable bags,” said Ted Robertson, a Managing Director with ideas42. “These promising results not only benefit Chicago’s environment but may also inform other municipalities around the nation.”
A study conducted by ideas42, New York University and the University of Chicago Energy & Environment Lab have shown the following statistics:
- Disposable bag use per trip decreased by 42 percent;
- Residents using disposable bags decreased by 33 percentage points;
- About half of customers who stopped using disposable bags switched to using reusable bags while others used no bags at all.
According to a news release, the study tracked bag use of customers at several large grocery chains in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs before and after the tax was implemented to compare consumer experience and determine the possible environmental impact.
From 2010 to 2015 Chicago’s carbon emissions from waste were down 30 percent, with the expansion of the City’s recycling program playing a significant factor. During those five years, the City increased the numbers of tons of recycled material from 58,000 to 97,000.