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The Chicago Tribune reports that several of the city's retailers "preparing for the citywide ban on the thin plastic bags bemoaned for cluttering landfills and littering parks, streets and waterways said they plan to offer customers reusable plastic bags that comply with the city ordinance, and don't plan to charge a fee."

Environmentalists are not happy.

Walmart, for example, "has been testing its new ordinance-compliant plastic bags at two of its Chicago stores, and plans to roll them out to its 12 city locations by the end of June. The response so far has been positive, the company said."

And at Target, "shoppers will be given reusable plastic bags at checkout and the company does not plan to charge a fee, a spokeswoman said. To promote reuse, Target will continue giving a 5-cent discount for every reusable bag shoppers use at its stores, as it has done since 2009."

And at Jewel, "which goes through about 6,000 plastic bags daily in a typical store, shoppers will be able to choose between paper and a new reusable plastic bag at no extra charge. Those bags are a bit smaller than the reusable plastic bags currently available for purchase at Jewel for 10 cents."

Some environmentalists say that these moves by retailers defeat the purpose of the ordinance, which they hoped would cut back on the number of bags going into landfills. Just making the bags sturdier to meet the letter of the law defeats the purpose, they believe, and the next step will be pushing for stricter rules that would require a fee paid by the shopper for every bag used.
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