Kroger is phasing out “use-once, throw-it-away plastic bags” across its stores with the goal of transitioning to reusable bags by 2025, the grocery chain announced Thursday.
“It’s a bold move that will better protect our planet for future generations,” Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
The company’s QFC stores ― a chain based in Seattle ― is set to lead the effort and complete the transition by 2019 as a model for its other locations.
Kroger operates close to 2,800 grocery stores in total. The move is part of its “Zero Hunger, Zero Waste” initiative, which seeks to increase recycling and cut back on food waste.
Plastic bags are a particular headache for recycling advocates. They can’t be recycled along with empty cans and plastic bottles and they take hundreds of years to decompose, even though they’re used only for a short while. Americans currently recycle less than 5 percent of the plastic bags used, according to a statement provided by Kroger, and the bags are commonly found where they shouldn’t be, outdoors.
The decision comes amid increasing efforts to cut back on single-use plastics nationwide.
In 2014, California became the first state to ban single-use plastic bags at large retail stores, while similar initiatives exist in Austin, Boston and Chicago. Other cities, such as Washington, D.C., charge fees for the bags.
Seattle last month enacted a ban on plastic utensils, including straws, being offered at restaurants, coffee shops, food trucks and other food service businesses. Several other cities around the country, such as Miami Beach and San Francisco, have already approved straw bans or are considering doing so. Starbucks has vowed to phase out plastic straws by 2020. Disney wants them gone from its parks by 2019.
Advocates hope such moves will encourage a broader shift in consumer behavior toward less plastic waste.