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IKEA to Phase Out Plastic Bags in U.S.

IKEA plans to stop offering plastic bags to its U.S. customers beginning in October following a successful plastic bag reduction program.

The company set a goal last year of slashing plastic bag use by 50 percent from 70 million bags to 35 million in 12 months. To do this, the company sold the plastic bags for a nickel, as well as reusable bags for 59 cents.

Ninety-two percent of customers eschewed the plastic bags, the retailer said. Now the company will pull plastic bags completely from its U.S. stores in October, just as it did in the United Kingdom in June, and in Australia in December. The company donated the proceeds -- more than $300,000 -- from the sale of the plastic bags to America Forests to plant trees.

"The success of this program truly demonstrates that our customers care deeply about our global home and that we can all work together to be sustainable and environmentally responsible," said Pernille Spiers-Lopez, president of IKEA North America.

Plastic bags, particularly single-use bags, have come under fire for several reasons, such as poor recycling rates and the fact that they are made from nonrenewable petrochemicals.

Whole Foods said it will completely phase out plastic bags across the company by the end of the month, while United Kingdom retailers recently were warned that the government could force them to charge customers a fee for plastic bags.

Even China has gotten into the act by banning the production of plastic bags beginning June 1. The bag ban has already led to the country's largest plastic bag manufacturer closing its doors.

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