CINCINNATI (AP) – The country's largest food chain has begun to phase out the use of plastic bags as more Americans feel uncomfortable with their environmental impact.
Kroger Co. will be in Seattle on Thursday at its QFC stores, with the goal of not using any plastic bags in these stores next year. By 2025, the company is expected to have plastic bags in all its nearly 2,800 stores.
Kroger Co. orders around 6 billion bags per year for its branches in 35 states and the District of Columbia, which covers nearly 9 countries every day through two dozen different food chains
The Cincinnati-based grocer is looking for customer feedback work with external groups during the transition to reusable bags. Customers can buy reusable bags in their stores for $ 1
"We listen carefully to our customers and our communities, and we agree with their growing concerns," said Mike Donnelly, Krogers Chief Operating Officer. "That's why we start today at QFC with the move to more sustainable options, and this decision is in line with our commitment to living our purpose through social impact."
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States receives more than 4 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and packaging produced. Only about 13 percent of this plastic is recycled.
A number of cities are trying to introduce new bans on disposable plastic bags, but there have been setbacks by industry groups saying that discarding plastic bags disproportionately lowers the bottom line.
In a number of states, there has been a backlash of lawmakers as cities try to pass ordinances prohibiting the use of plastic bags or charging if customers do not bring reusable bags.
According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, since 2015 state legislators in Arizona, Missouri, Idaho, Michigan, Wisconsin, and last year, Minnesota, have prevented local regulations banning the plastic bags. They followed similar state measures in Florida, Indiana and Iowa, according to Pew.
But companies are free to make their own decisions on this front, and increasingly they do.
There is a broader shift in large US corporations to reduce waste. Disney, Starbucks, Marriott and McDonald's get rid of plastic straws. McDonald's this year said it will use only recycled or other eco-friendly materials for its beverage cups, Happy Meal boxes and other packaging by 2025. Dunkin 'Donuts will phase out polystyrene cups by 2020. Ikea plans to eliminate disposable plastic products from its shelves by 2020.
David Pinsky of Greenpeace welcomed the shift at Kroger and said plastic pollution is killing marine life and affecting human health.
"Kroger's decision to phase out disposable plastic bags is proof that consumers are demanding measures against plastics from retailers at the national level," Pinsky said. "Kroger should build on these efforts by getting rid of additional types of disposable plastic, plastic bags are important for retailers, but also plastic bottles, styrofoam trays and plastic-wrapped fruit and vegetables."