Chicago’s bag tax goes into effect: Here’s what you need to know

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CHICAGO  — Shoppers in Chicago will have to pay a checkout tax of 7 cents per bag at all retailers in the city unless they bring their own bags to stores.

The tax starts Wednesday and includes paper AND plastic bags.

Exceptions include bags for produce and prescription drugs.

It is the the city's latest attempt to cut down on the use of disposable bags, which are usually given for free at checkout and often end up in landfills.

The new tax replaces a ban on lightweight plastic bags, which city officials say wasn't as effective as they had hoped.

It's retailers' decision to pass the tax along to the customer or absorb the cost themselves. Many stores, including Walgreens, Jewel-Osco, and CVS Pharmacy, have said shoppers will pay the bill.

To help shoppers out, the city will hand out up to 25,000 free, reusable “Chi Bags” outside seven CTA stations tonight. Bags will be distributed at the following CTA stations from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.:

  • 95th Street - Red Line
  • Roosevelt - Green, Orange and Red Lines
  • Belmont - Red, Brown and Purple Lines
  • Logan Square - Blue Line
  • Ashland/63rd - Green Line
  • Kimball - Brown Line
  • Pulaski - Orange Line

Some retailers are also helping out by giving away reusable bags:

  • Target: On Wednesday, February 1, Target will be giving away a free reusable bag to the first 200 guests at each of its 16 locations.
  • Whole Foods: On Wednesday, February 1, the first 1,000 customers at each of Whole Foods’ 12 Chicago locations will receive a free, reusable bag.