Chicago’s Plastic Bag Ban



Chicago’s Plastic Bag Ban

Almost a year ago, July 31st 2015, Chicago passed a law that places a ban on plastic bags. The law is specifically for larger chain stores that are more than 10,000 ft. large.  The law would require that stores utilize and distribute reusable bags. The purpose behind this law to minimize the use of plastic bags in order to strive for a more sustainable Chicago. Another purpose of the law is that it is pushing for consumers to bring their own bags when they are shopping.

While the intention and purpose of the law seem ideal, practical and better for the environment, researchers and environmentalists are arguing that the exact opposite is taking place. Large corporations have found a way of getting around the law. By increasing the thickness of the plastic bag, they claim that the bags are reusable and are therefore they are allowed to give those bags to customers at no cost. For example, thicker plastic bags can be found at Target, Walgreens and Walmart while other stores such as Marshalls and Best Buy have begun to distribute paper bags. Larger stores however, are not encouraging the reuse of these thicker plastic bags. As a result, there has been no good outcome to the law put in place.

Sometime in the future, there will be an amendment made to the law that increases the thickness of the plastic bags in an effort to make it too costly for the stores to distribute. The hope is that these stores would begin to use a more biodegradable bag.




8 thoughts on “Chicago’s Plastic Bag Ban

  1. The plastic bag ban in my opinion was useless because those stores who provide customers with these thicker bags don’t really encourage the reuse of these bags and people don’t really reuse them anyway because its a hassle to carry around. But also since people are using these thicker bags the same way they used to less dense ones. Its actually worse because more plastic goes to waste and causes more pollution.


  2. I totally agree with the above statement because using more plastic with no purpose of reusing it or even recycling it is dreadful and an abomination toward the environment. Stores are ignoring the issue to respond to capitol demands and go around the law to avoid paying more. So they use paper or thicker plastic. I would suggest to blame both the consumer and the store because they are the reason the law is useless. I think stores should charge for every bag given out regardless paper or plastic and this would in turn force people to bring their own bag. what do you think?


  3. In my house we have a cabinet just for plastic bags from the grocery store. Even though we do reuse the plastic bags for picking up after my dog. It seems like such an unnecessary waste. I did not know that the large companies had found a loop hole against this ban. I agree that the consumers a part of the blame because they also demand the plastic bags.


  4. I live on the northern edge of the city that borders Skokie and Evanston- where the ban was also enacted- and I gotta say that no one encourages the reuse (is that a word?) of the new thicker bags, even when people comment about them at the registers. I always try to keep some of the bags I get from walmart or target to wrap clothes and shoes in my suitcase or for my bathroom garbage can. But since the ban, I actually think that I throw the thicker bags away more than I save them because they’re not as stretchy??? I don’t know. But honestly, I think the ban was a fail.

    One way to encourage people to not use plastic bags could be to offer shoppers a discount fro bringing their own bags. Especially at big box stores where the company could end up saving money by not ordering so many bags (because we know how much they looove their money) and gaining incentives from cities for encouraging green efforts.


  5. I too wrote about the ban on plastic bags in the city. In critical thinking last semester, I did a presentation on the banning of plastic bags. I opposed the ban on plastic bags. There were many reasons why I objected to the ban on plastic bags. One reason is alternative bags use a lot of energy to create. For example, you have to use a cotton bag 131 times to reduce the global warming effects caused by creating that bag.

    I never understand why stores give out bags made out of thicker plastic; it defeats the purpose of the plastic bag ban. Many people reuse the HDPE bags they were given at the grocery store. Also, many people can’t afford to put food on the table, but they have to pay for bags.


  6. This is all very interesting, and I too am very disheartened at the failure of a law that was passed with very good intention. These are simply unprecedented happenings that should have been foreseen. I believe that there needs to be a subsequent municipal ordinance to now discourage the free distribution of reusable plastic bags and perhaps charge for the attainment and encourage its use. This should be done as soon as possible but knowing how fast such laws take to form and pass in Chicago, it may take much longer than it should.


  7. banning plastic bags in supermarkets and grocery stores is not a bad idea, it definitely reduced the amount of plastic bags, and and people have to choose something else instead of plastic bags. but the problem is how can other things instead of plastic bags? paper bags are too weak to carry heavy stuff, reusable bags i daunt that most people are still using it once. I’am agree with your last sentence in this article, maybe the future belongs to more biodegradable bag, and i also believe that is the most sustainable way to replace plastic bags in our daily life.


  8. It is frustrating to watch these companies giving thicker bags when everyone knows that the reason that law was passed was to find other sustainable means to replace the plastic bags or push people to use reusable bags. Instead they are giving those thicker bags which are probably worse than the ones being used before.


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