U.S. IKEA stores stop offering free plastic bags

Last week, IKEA stores in the United States stopped offering free plastic bags to customers, instead opting to charge $.05 per plastic bag or $.59 for a reusable bag.

The move echoes a long-term trend overseas, particularly in Europe, to move away from environmentally unfriendly plastic shopping bags to reusable bags.

The Sweden-based retailer has the goal of reducing plastic bag consumption by 50 percent in the United States, and it has supported phasing out the bags altogether. Proceeds from the sale of the $.05 plastic bags go to the forest protection nonprofit group American Forests.

Several countries have banned or instituted a charge for plastic bags, including China, Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom.