IKEA To Charge $.05 for Plastic Bags In Effort To Reduce Consumption

According to Treehugger, IKEA will be charging $.05 for each plastic bag starting March 15 in an effort to encourage environmentally responsible behavior. IKEA will also be reducing the price of their re-usable blue shopping bags (also known as the greatest laundry bag ever) to $.59 from $.99. From Treehugger:

Proceeds of up to $1.75 million (that’s a whole lot of bags) from the bag campaign will go to American Forests, the nation’s oldest non-profit citizens conservation organization, to plant trees to restore forests and offset CO2 emissions,..IKEA projects that the number of plastic bags used by their U.S. customers will be reduced by at least 50% from 70 million to 35 million in the first year. This program was launched in IKEA stores in the UK in late Spring 2006, and reduction has been an impressive 95 percent.

The program was very popular in the UK, and we love those IKEA shopping bags, so we’re all for it. We imagine, however, that a lot of people won’t be.—MEGHANN MARCO

IKEA US to ‘Bag The Plastic Bag’ [Treehugger]
(Photo: pdxsurreal)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Gena says:

    Looks like IKEA is off the shopping list. I’m all for the environment, and like the concept of stores giving customers an incentive for bringing their own bags in, but charging us to shop with them? No way. Plenty of other stores want my money and won’t charge me to package my purchases.

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    It is better than Costco, which doesn’t even OFFER bags.

  3. scoobydoo says:

    This is very common in Europe. When I lived there I’d pay 25 cents for a plastic bag, but at least I got a GOOD bag, not the “t-shirt” bags they hand out here.

    As for Gena; plenty of other stores? Name one store that has the assortment and prices that Ikea offers. There is a reason their stores are always so busy.

    I think it’s a great idea, and spending a quarter for a couple of bags to load up your jerker and billy can’t be too bad…

  4. acambras says:


    Hopefully they’ll allow one or both of the following:
    1) Bring your own bag(s)
    2) Decline bags altogether if you’ve got just one or two items. I often do this in lots of stores — I just make sure to get the receipt so no one thinks I shoplifted the stuff I bought.

  5. 44 in a Row says:

    acambras, not only do I think they’ll allow it, but I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point. This doesn’t strike me as a money-grab by IKEA, but rather an incentive for people to avoid the disposable plastic bags altogether when they really don’t need them. I almost wish more stores would do that; I mean, seriously, why does CVS always have to try to double-bag my can of Red Bull and Twix bar?

  6. how about if Ikea takes a price off for *not* using their bags? like 5 cents a bag not used.

  7. Tallanvor says:

    @scoobydoo: What part of Europe is it common in? I don’t remember seeing it in Germany either of the times I’ve been there (either in 1997 or in 2005), and I know it’s not common here in the UK.

    In the UK, IKEA is the only place I’ve seen do this. Tesco gives you points for reusing bags I know, but no other store has charged me for bags. Personally, I don’t like those big blue bags they charge 25p (about $0.50) for… They’re sort of cheap canvas. And when you’re buying breakables, all they have to wrap the stuff in if you don’t buy the bags is stiff paper. –Not much fun if you have to carry breakables back on the tube.

    I’d rather see them take a few cents off for every bag you reuse.

  8. Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

    what if the bags are out of stock, but they tell you they have them?

  9. jodamiller says:

    Gena, if you’re really for the environment, then this surcharge shouldn’t bother you because you have your own bags in order to help out the environment. There are going to be a lot of myopic reactions from IKEA customers, but this is a good decision, even if everyone doesn’t realize it at first. People often claim they’re for less pollution and consumption, but they often don’t act out their claims until it’s good on the wallet to do so.

  10. lore says:

    @Tallanvor: I’ve seen it in France.

    In any case, say it ain’t so! IKEA has been providing me with a great source of trash bags for many years. Now I have to actually *gasp* buy them?!

  11. Rajio says:

    you guys need to get over it. bags aren’t free to produce. plastic bags have environmental costs beyond that too. They should be charging ten to twenty-five cents per bag if they really want to reduce bag use. how much stuff you get from ikea fits into the bag anyhow? If it bugs you so much, bring your own bag. plastic bags aren’t a consumer’s right. suck it up.

  12. mfergel says:

    Try and get a bag at Sam’s Club. Good luck. They send you out with boxes that held merchandise prior to it being put on the shelf. I think this is an ok idea. Especially if it was that effective in the UK and the money is going to a good use. Now if they can just pass some laws to get rid of the incadecent light bulb.

  13. Amy Alkon says:

    I already bring my own bags. I got them from reusablebags.com…they fold up very small. I have four in my car for when I go to the grocery store, and one in my purse in case I’m out and go to the drugstore or something. Why use up resources unnecessarily?

    And in France, non-chichi grocery stores do charge for them. And sometimes don’t even have them. My American friend who lives there, married to a Frenchman, always has plastic bags folded up in small triangles in her purse in case she goes to the store.

    It’s a different way of thinking. They’re much more conservative about resources there, and it’s a good thing.

    You also get ONE napkin there, not a stack.

  14. Bye says:

    What does it mean to be “all for the environment” but unwilling to take small steps to prove that commitment?

    I don’t mean to harsh on anybody necessarily, but the reaction to this is ludicrous. Go buy one of the hefty big blue bags for 2/3 of a dollar and reuse it until it falls apart.

    I will miss those big IKEA bags that work great as garbage bags, but I will adapt…

  15. vannsant says:


    It’s very common in Germany, but probably not in the American touristy shops or in clothing stores. Go to any local grocery store and you’ll not get a bag for free. Most poeple bring their own clothe bags or a basket. It’s also standard practice at IKEA in Germany and has been since at least 1998, but probably earlier.

  16. LWQuestie says:

    Aldi charges for paper and plastic bags ($.05 for one, $.10 for the other). I think it’s a great idea. Sooooo many plastic bags go to waste.

  17. Namrepus says:

    ALDI here in the USA has been doing this for years.

    You’d be suprised how many people scoff at the idea of having to pay for grocery bags when I tell them that (I don’t work at an ALDI but I’ve had one or two people ask me if I knew about the place as one had just opened in our town)

  18. Amy Alkon says:

    Oh, and I so don’t believe those people who say they won’t shop at Ikea because of this. Over a five-cent bag? Right.

  19. medalian1 says:

    I thought IKEA was a furniture store? I’m in Tampa, FL and we don’t have these stores.

  20. kerry says:

    I don’t shop at Ikea much, since they’re about 40 miles away and I have no car. That said, I generally keep a couple durable-but-foldable tote bags with me for shopping purposes and some stores (like Whole Foods) will give you a 10 cent credit if you bring your own bag.
    Aldi’s been charging people for bags forever, and based on the prevalence of Aldi bags being carried on city trains and buses I’d say that the customers don’t really mind reusing them.

  21. jeblis says:

    Well the bags are worth more than the contents…

    I’ve been in Ikea once. Couldn’t believe how crappy the stuff was.

  22. Bye says:

    That Aldi has long-charged for bags is especially interesting being that they are German-owned.

  23. MaliBoo Radley says:

    I live in the UK. We don’t have to pay for bags in grocery stores, but you’re better off if you do. They do give away free bags at the check out, but they’re the standard flimsy type. For 25p, I was able to buy some very tough reinforced bags at Sainsburys. I take them everytime I go. I’ve been using the same 4 for about 6 months. Other times, I just bring a duffle bag. Given that I walk home (rather than drive), a sturdy bag makes all the difference. Besides, when I think of the dozens of cheap bags I’ve saved, I feel pretty good.

    PS: I went to the Ikea in Wembley … I bought their big blue bags for 25p. I’m still using them to tote my laundry, carry rubbish, store old newspapers etc. Very handy indeed.

  24. phrygian says:

    I shop at IKEA now and again and I’ve never had my items put into a bag at check out. I’m usually getting things that are too big for a bag or a few small things that I can carry or put in my purse. I don’t get shopping bags at any stores, if I can help it. (I bought my own, collapsible shopping basket to help with this.) So, I don’t think that IKEA charging for bags is a big deal — especially not if IKEA’s employees can handle people bringing their own bags to use. (It annoys me to no end that the baggers at the grocery store are befuddled by packing my shopping basket.)

    And, if you need a bag and can’t afford the 5 cents, I’m sure you can find a nickel in the parking lot if you look hard enough.

  25. Rahnee says:

    Im with AMY. I got a set from reusablebags.com and LOVE them!!! I wished EVERY store charged for bags. Not sure if I have the figures correct but seems I read that it takes 11 MILLION barrels of crude to produce all the bags America uses in ONE year. Imagine what our GAS prices would be like if we stopped using plastic shopping bags. I think I read that figure from either reusablebags or treehugger.

  26. kerry says:

    @Amy Alkon:
    Thanks for the tip to reusablebags.com, btw, I’ve been looking for bags that pack really tiny, particularly one that can fit into its own little pouch. They had about 7 kinds. Sweet! Now I just need to decide how many in-hand and how many over-the-shoulder bags I need.
    It says a lot about the neighborhoods I’ve lived in that bringing your own bag is considered pretty normal to the checkout folks. Now I just wish the self-checkout at my local supermarket would allow you to hook your own bag on, as it is now it yells at me for an unexpected item in the bagging area when I try. Jerks.

  27. formergr says:

    @Tallanvor: It’s super common in Germany. Also Austria, France, and Switzerland. I’m not talking about at a clothing store or anything, but at grocery stores. They’ll charge you for plastic bags, but they usually leave a big pile of open cardboard boxes left over from their stocking that you can help yourself to.

  28. VeryFancyBunny says:

    This makes me happy.

    My husband and I have a personal war going against the prevalence of plastic bags. So far, though, the rest of the world has been fairly uncooperative. We take our bevy of canvas bags to the grocery store, and the bagger tries to double-bag our stuff in plastic bags and THEN put it in the canvas bags, or stuff the canvas bags in plastic bags. One time the bagger just held up our canvas bags and said, “I’ve never seen these before.”

    There are also the looks of shock I get from the Walgreens cashier when I tell him or her I “don’t need a bag” for the small bottle of aspirin I just bought. “Are you sure? Really?” comes the reply. Yes, I’m sure! I have a treacherous 10-pace walk to my car, but I think I can make it with the bottle of aspirin still intact.

  29. sam says:

    @Tallanvor: I’ve been living in Italy for the past six months, and I can tell you that every single grocery store charges Euro .10 per plastic bag. Since I use them as garbage bags when I get home, I tend to pay for them each time, but many people either bring bags that they’ve previously purchased (and the bags here are much sturdier) or have their own reusable bags.

    I should also point out that even when buying new bags, I find myself being much more economical – where the grocery store in New York would pack x number of items in 2-3 bags (each also double bagged), I can generally make do with 1-2 here (and because they’re sturdier, there’s no need to double-bag). I often only go up to 2 bags only for the “balance” factor, as I have a fairly lengthy walk home.

  30. Mr. Bananagrabber says:

    It’s also very common in Italy (at least the northern parts). And after shopping at the same Jewel for a year, I still get strange looks when I hand the bagger my canvas bags.

  31. Tallanvor says:

    @Ryan Irelan: @formergr: I’ll have to take your words for it. The last time I was in Germany was in 2005, and I was only in a grocery store once to buy a drink, so I wasn’t paying much attention there, I’ll admit. Back in 1997 when I spent a month there, though, I didn’t see it, so maybe it caught on after that?

    I know Tesco is trying to reduce the number of plastic bags they go through by 25% voluntarily (supposedly it’s something like 4 billion per year).

  32. not_seth_brundle says:

    @Moonshine Mike:

    From a behavioral standpoint, because people generally are loss-averse, most people are more likely to decline the bag in a system that charges for bags rather than refunding for not using bags.

  33. NeonCat says:

    @Rahnee: Our gas prices would be pretty much the same because 11 million barrels is nothing, especially over the course of a year. According to the Feds, US oil consumption is 20,802,000 barrels/day.

    Besides, I don’t know about the bags that you are given, but the ones I am given at the store are not made of gasoline.

  34. DeeJayQueue says:

    @Moonshine Mike: How are you going to know how many bags you didn’t use? If I bought 30 lightbulbs should I get $1.50 back for not using a bag for each item?

    I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy one of those blue bags for a while now, if for no other reason than to use on the stuff I buy at Costco. Now I have even more of an incentive.

    I think it’s a good idea. It’s pretty much win-win. On one hand, it reduces waste by encouraging the re-use or non-use of plastic bags. On the other hand, the proceeds that they make from selling their bags go right to helping the environment.

  35. cindel says:

    Anybody in Cal? When I was there I seems to remember either Ralphs or Albertson charging for bags. I know that I brought my own bags to the store a few times.

  36. kamiame says:

    @NeonCat: I can’t speak to the gasoline content in plastic bags, but everything takes energy to produce, right?

  37. spacehaven says:

    This is probably a very clever way to indirectly force the cashiers to not give out so many bags. Most of the time when I go to IKEA and the cashier helps out by bagging my stuff, for some reason they put just a few items in each bag (same with the supermarket). Maybe the cashiers get complaints from bitchy customers (“Don’t put so much stuff in that bag you’ll break things!”).

  38. brkl says:

    Every single store here in Finland charges for bags. You can generally choose to use plastic (good, strong plastic) bags or paper bags. I spent 80c on a bag today, but that was a reusable bag made of cloth.

  39. jacques says:

    Just picked some of those re-usables up, thanks for the tip!

  40. Uurp says:

    I’m all for it. I would certainly not be willing to pay for a flimsy plastic bag when I shop at Kroger, for example, so I’d be motivated to bring my own reusable bag. And that’s probably IKEA’s point. I walk through a large copse every day and it would be beautiful–except for the dozens of plastic bags hanging off trees and wrapped arouthe bags don’t spell out a secret message.

  41. bluebuilder says:

    I live with people who grab stacks of IKEA bags so they don’t have to buy garbage bags. I think it’s disrespectful, so I see IKEA’s point, there is serious abuse going on of their system.

  42. kerry says:


    Besides, I don’t know about the bags that you are given, but the ones I am given at the store are not made of gasoline.

    Oooof. Crude oil is used to make many plastics, not just gasoline. Crude oil = hydrocarbons = gasoline, plastics, petroleum based anything.

  43. HearsMusic says:

    @Amy Alkon: Thanks so much for the reusablebags.com tip! I can’t wait to order a bunch for my grocery trips. I have a couple of big ones, but I really like those fold-up grocery style bags. Nothing beats getting the circulation in my fingers cut off while I try to carry too many bags down the sidewalk and up the steps to my apartment. Sheesh. Thanks again.

  44. SOhp101 says:


    They do offer bags at Costco. Paper bags.

  45. superfizz says:

    I am glad to hear this. I bring bags with me to the grocery store all the time, it saddens me that it isn’t more common place, I also have experienced the weird looks from cashiers and have had them bag up my fruits and vegetables. Waste not, want not.

  46. kcs says:

    It seems to me that IKEA’s disposable furniture fills up our land fills as much, if not more, than their plastice bags.

  47. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Nobody wants to pay for something that they once were given for free, but all things considered, 5 cents a bag isn’t a big deal. I mean, hey, if you go to IKEA and spend enough money to end up with 20 bags (grand total, $1.00 extra in bags)..the extra buck will hardly even be noticed by the time the $200 credit card bill comes.

    It’s a psychological adjustment, yes..but hey, most IKEA shoppers are pretty progressive, and they’ll just deal with it.

    This won’t even make a dent in IKEA’s business.

  48. I’m with Aimee and Rahnee. Ecobags.com is another source. I generally keep four string bags in my car to use at the grocery store and if I have more than that, I let them bag plastic, because we use that for cleaning litter boxes and lining bathroom trash cans. We STILL always have more than we need.

    I also have a couple nifty tote bags and a big straw THING that’s great at the farmer’s market or when running a dozen errands in succession with little bits of things.

  49. suckonthat says:

    In Munich, you definitely have to pay for bags. Same goes for Ireland (though some convience and liquor stores give you ones for free).

    I would welcome this to my local grocery store. I tried bringing a duffle bag, but the self-checkout line freaks out when I try to use it (it thinks I am stealin). So instead I have a bag in my room filled with the 10+ plastic bags I use to cart $20 worth of food home. A drop them off in bin to recycle them at the store, but I suspect that they end up in the trash anyways.

  50. aestheticity says:

    ” Besides, I don’t know about the bags that you are given, but the ones I am given at the store are not made of gasoline. “

    ” Oooof “

    indeed. this is america.

  51. Jim C. says:

    I reuse paper bags all the time at the grocery. When they wear out I just ask for paper again. The only exception is that I occasionally ask plastic grocery bags that I later use for my trash.

    @Rahnee wrote

    I read that it takes 11 MILLION barrels of crude to produce all the bags America uses in ONE year. Imagine what our GAS prices would be like if we stopped using plastic shopping bags.

    From the CIA Fact Book: “Oil – Consumption: 20.03 million bbl/day (2003 est.)” So your 11 million bbl/year figure is just half of the USA’s consumption in one day.

    Assume for the sake of simplicity that extra availability would decrease the price of all oil proportionately. The price of gas would drop by about 1/720, which is .139 percent. At $3/gal, that’s a reduction of 300/720 or .417 cents. Yes, less than 1/2 cent per gallon.

    Don’t spend it all in one place. :)

    In other words, the price of oil is not the reason to use reusable bags.


  52. tadiera says:

    IKEA’s blue bags are indeed the best laundry bag ever.

    Which is why I’m so sad that mine is falling apart. I moved away from any nearby IKEA. Sigh.

  53. Tonguetied says:

    I’m amazed (not really) at the number of comments that read along the lines of “this is a great idea, I do it already and I think everyone should have to do it too.” Uh, it’s called choice. If you want to do it fine, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ok to impose it on everyone else. http://www.shrubwalkers.com/prose/list/not.html
    A small part of me wonders if there would be howls of outrage if Walmart did this with people complaining that “Walmart is just trying to stiff their customers again.”
    The costs of the bags are already figured into the costs of what you’re buying, just as the wages of the employees, the cost of cleaning supplies, utility bills etc. But I’d be very surprised if there’s corresponding decrease in IKEA’s overall prices since they aren’t paying for the bags anymore. Of course any drop would be fractions of pennies since it would be spread out over the prices on thousands of items so that’s not really fair of me…

  54. Amy Alkon says:

    Ikea isn’t “imposing” on anybody. If you don’t like it, don’t shop there. I’m not suggesting passing laws to mandate you bring your own bags, merely suggesting it’s a good idea. While I have a campaign against SUVs on my site — a campaign I created to help change public opinion so unnecessarily huge vehicles (for, say one woman driving to Hollywood with a script and a latte) would be uncool to drive — why should one person take more of our shared resources than necessary? It takes energy to make bags. Notice a war going on in the Middle East at the moment? If they grew potatoes instead of having oil under the ground, do you really think we’d be so interested in them? Yes, Bin Laden and all that. But, I didn’t see any old photos of George Bush holding hands with Irish potato farmers (like he does with various Arab oil potentates), did you?

  55. Amy Alkon says:

    I meant to say, I have a campaign against SUVs, but perhaps you should pay a carbon tax for polluting more if you have a giant vehicle; ie, taking more of the clean air of the rest of us. We share the planet, and it’s simply rude to use resources unnecessarily.

    I drive a SULEV Honda Insight that gets 60-some MPG if I don’t go too fast on the highway and there isn’t a lot of traffic. SULEV means “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle.” And my friend Darcy just bought a new VW Bug that runs on vegetable oil. Not available when I bought mine, back in 2004, or I would’ve gone for that instead.

  56. SexCpotatoes says:

    There are a whole lot of “petroleum distillates” that come from refining crude oil. Plastic is merely one of these, they get rocket fuel, kerosene, diesel, tar, asphalt is made from crude oil, the ptholeolauuethatuhates that make up the dash of your car, all petroleum distillates. When oil goes, so does all the plastic and asphalt roads will deteriorate, etc. Though there is a way to grind up existing asphalt and combine it with more tar or something to make new pavement. The chemicals to make plastic are a bi-product of gasoline or other types of refining of crude oil. At least that’s partly how it works as I understand it.

  57. jvilter says:

    My Trader Joe’s has started to give out raffle tickets if you bring your own bags. Once a month they give out a $25.00 gift card. Great incentive and good publicity for them as well.

  58. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @SOhp101: There aren’t any bags at Costcos in Chicago!

    Trader Joe’s gives you a full sized paper bag with handles, free. What makes this interesting is that TJ’s is owned by the same two German brothers that own Aldi, which of course charges for bags.

  59. Her Grace says:

    They’ve done this in Australia for years, apparently. If you don’t need a bag or bring one with you, great–you don’t buy one. No big deal. It surprised me the first trip, but after that it was fine. Our bags are more expensive here, though.

    Costcos in NC didn’t have bags.

  60. migambeta says:

    When shopping at IKEA last week I was explained that every bag will cost me five cents and that the money will be donated to the American Forest.Althoug I can simpatize with the enviromentalists, I believe that bagging a customers purchases is part of customer service and an expense for being on business.If IKEA supports the American Forest, bag my purchases for FREE and at the end of the month or the year make a donation with IKEA MONEY. Don’t force me to donate MY money.No only the company is saving money in packaging, they are also getting a tax write-off because of the customer’s money donated…I was explained that the money is going to a good cause, then, better yet, why don’t they donate a percentage of the salary of the people that came up with this idea??? After all…is going to a good cause!!!