By Fran Spielman
Chicago’s 7-cents-a-bag tax on paper and plastic bags is driving consumer behavior in the right direction to reduce landfill costs: Both the number of disposable bags used and the number of shoppers willing to pay for them is way down.
Before Feb. 1, Chicago shoppers used an average of 2.3 disposable bags every time they went to a major grocery store.
In the first month after shoppers started paying 7-cents-a-bag for the privilege, the number of disposable bags used declined by roughly one bag-per-shopping trip, a 42 percent decrease.
Even more encouraging to environmentalists, only 49 percent of the 14,168 Chicago customers surveyed used any disposable bags. That’s down from the 82 percent who used at least one disposable bag every time they went to the grocery story before being forced to pay a bag tax.
Before the tax, only 13 percent of customers brought along re-usable bags to carry their groceries. After the tax, it was 33 percent. Three percent of customers surveyed used both a disposable paper or plastic bag and a re-usable bag.
The survey was conducted for the city by ideas42, a behavior design lab, and by researchers from New York University and the University of Chicago Energy & Environment Lab…
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