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Trash found in Montgomery, Illinois. Photo by Kelly Ellam.

Chicago adds tax on plastic bags

By Kelly Ellam

This year, Chicago has added a 7-cent tax on plastic bags. Stores in Cook County, Illinois are now required to tax all plastic bags customers get from stores.

The United States alone goes through 100 billion plastic bags a year, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Chicago is joining other parts of the county including cities in western California and much of Hawaii who has already taken

Litter found along the Fox River. Photo by Kelly Ellam.

steps to reduce the usage of plastic bags or have banned them altogether.


The Great Lakes are collecting 22 million pounds of plastic a year, says John Myers, a writer for the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. This fact is just one of the reasons cities in America have started taxing plastic bags.

“All the business with the tax ban are very nice and friendly explaining to the customers that they must tax them if they wish to use a plastic bag,” says Emily Wilson, a resident of Chicago.

“In all honesty, this is something that has only crossed my mind once since it was announced. Since I don’t currently do my own grocery shopping or go to the store often, it doesn’t seem like something that affects me just yet, therefore it’s not something I care too much about,” said Joseline Valdez, a senior marketing major.

Walmart and other stores in the Chicago area are doing what they are able to reduce waste. Many stores recollect plastic bags if customers return them to stores. Shoppers also have the option of using boxes or reusable bags rather than plastic bags.

“Most everyone is fine with the tax and are still using plastic bags for their groceries,” said Emily Wilson, a Chicago resident.

For more information about this new law, and other policy updates, visit the Illinois Policy website.