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Target begins nationwide reusable bag policy

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Target stores across the country are giving customers 5 cents for every reusable bag they use while shopping, in an effort to reduce the number of paper and plastic bags that get thrown away.

While grocery store chains and smaller retailers have already implemented similar reward programs, Target is the first major discount retailer to put a reusable bag incentive in place at all of its 1,700 stores. 

"It's really about helping to promote reusable bags and keeping plastic bags out of landfills," said Amy Reilly, a spokeswoman for the Minneapolis-based retailer. "We know it's important to (customers), and it's important to us."

Target officially launches the new policy on Nov. 1, although most stores already have it in place, Reilly said. Customers will notice signs at registers and can also learn about the new initiative in Target's circular ads, she said.

Shoppers don't have to use a Target reusable bag to get credit, but the bag can't be a plastic or paper bag that they're using again.

Besides incentive programs, some retailers have in place a more radical strategy of not offering free bags to customers. IKEA, for example, has reusable bags available for sale. And as part of a trial program in California, several Walmart stores will force shoppers to either bring their own bags or purchase inexpensive reusable bags. 

CVS pharmacies also recently announced a reusable bag incentive at its 7,000 locations, which gives members of its customer loyalty program special coupons if they make several shopping trips without taking home a plastic bag.