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Chicago’s Plastic Bag Ban Set To Begin

A partial ban on plastic bags will go into effect Saturday in Chicago. From August 1 onward, stores larger than 10,000 square feet are prohibited from offering customers disposable plastic bags. The ban will be extended to smaller chain stores and franchises in August of 2016. Small independent or non-franchise stores and restaurants are exempt.

A city ordinance instituting the partial single-use ban states that stores are subject to fines of $300 to $500 each time a plastic bag is given out. Nonetheless, plastic bags from large retailers do not appear to be going away entirely.

Target and Jewel-Osco plan to introduce so-called “reusable” plastic bags that they say meet the requirements of Chicago’s ordinance, which mandates that retailers “shall provide reusable bags, recyclable paper bags or any combination thereof.” Jewel-Osco says the plastic bags it will provide can hold up to 22 pounds and be reused 125 times, thus putting the retailer in compliance with the law. “We are following the ordinance, obviously, and we are following exactly what the city would like us to do,” Jewel-Osco spokeswoman Mary Frances Bragiel told the Chicago Sun-Times.

In April, Chicago’s City Council voted 36-10 in favor of the partial plastic bag ban. Mayor Rahm Emanuel supported the ban.