Single-Use Bag Tax
Village Code requires Northbrook retail stores of 3,000 square feet or greater to charge customers 10 cents for each single-use paper or plastic bag provided at the checkout counter. The program is intended to encourage customers to bring their own shopping bags to avoid taking a single-use, disposable bag that may end up as litter. The single-use bag tax ordinance was approved by the Village Board of Trustees following a recommendation from Northbrook’s Sustainability Commission.
This ordinance was first recommended in Northbrook’s Climate Action Plan because research finds that such initiatives work to encourage reusable bag usage and reduce stray litter in a community. Both paper and plastic bags are included because there are negative environmental impacts associated with natural resource consumption from the production and end-of-life disposal of both products.
What You Need To Know
- Shoppers can avoid the bag tax by bringing their own bags.
- The bag tax does not apply to some bags such as those used to package bulk items, produce, or for prescription drugs provided at a pharmacy.
- Participants in state and federal Food Assistance Programs will not be charged for single-use bags.
- Charges for bags must be displayed separately on customer receipts.
Reusable Bag Tips with Reusable Ricky
- Why are single-use bags a concern in Northbrook?
Plastic bags are very difficult to recycle (they should not be put in recycling carts or recycling dumpsters) and cause damage to recycling facility equipment. They are the number one source of contamination to our recycling collection in Northbrook, and recycling that is contaminated with bags are sent to landfills instead of sorted. Plastic bags take up space in landfills, litter our community, block storm drains, and endanger wildlife. Paper bags can be recycled, but they need a very large amount of water and energy to produce.
- What is the reason for the tax on single-use bags?
The Northbrook Village Board of Trustees adopted the tax on single-use bags to reduce environmental impacts and cost to the Village caused by single-use bags. Numerous studies have shown that a mandatory tax on single-use bags significantly reduces the number used.
- How much is the tax?
The tax is ten cents ($0.10) per single-use bag (plastic, paper, or other material including but not limited to compostable material) provided at the checkout.
- What stores are required to collect the tax?
All retail stores within Northbrook whose square footage is 3,000 feet or greater must charge the tax. Examples of these types of stores include, but are not limited to: convenience stores, department stores, retail chain stores, hardware stores, and grocery stores.
- Which stores are not required to collect the tax?
Restaurants, beauty salons, auto mechanics, and dry cleaners are not required to charge the bag tax. Stores whose square footage is less than 3,000 feet are not required to charge the bag tax. Sales at seasonal events, including farmers markets or yard sales, are also not required to charge the tax.
- Is the single-use bag tax subject to sales tax?
The tax is not subject to sales tax. Retailers should NOT be applying the sales tax rate to the single-use bag tax that is charged.
- Are signs about the bag tax required to be on display in stores?
Yes. Retail stores required to collect the bag tax must display a sign viewable to customers inside or outside the store, alerting them to the bag tax. Stores may either use the Village-provided sign, or create their own. Minimum requirements for signage will include a statement that by local ordinance, the store is required to charge a 10¢ tax on each single-use bag provided at checkout.
- What will the fees be used for?
For each ten-cent tax, five cents are to be retained by the business and five cents will go to the Village. The single-use bag fees submitted to the Village of Northbrook will be used to fund sustainability projects as reviewed and approved by the Village Board. At the start of the program rollout, the Village will supply free reusable bags for distribution at applicable businesses.