CINCINNATI — The Kroger Co. is working to phase out single-use plastic bags and transition to reusable bags across its banners by 2025.
The initiative will begin with the QFC banner in the Pacific Northwest, which will complete the transition in 2019, Convenience Store News sister publication Progressive Grocer reported.
The decision also aligns with the Restock Kroger pillar to "Live Kroger's Purpose" through social impact, said Mike Donnelly, Kroger’s executive vice president and chief operating operator.
"We listen very closely to our customers and our communities, and we agree with their growing concerns," he noted. "That's why, starting today at QFC, we will begin the transition to more sustainable options."
Kroger said it will solicit customer feedback and work with non-governmental organizations and community partners to ensure a responsible transition. It also will continue to offer paper bags during the transition period, the retailer told Progressive Grocer, although its ultimate goal is to move to reusable bags exclusively.
"We recognize that it may be challenging for some of our customers to incur the cost of purchasing multiple reusable bags," Kristal Howard, Kroger's head of corporate communications, told the news outlet. "We also understand some customers may not have the time or means to bring these bags with them on every store trip. We are committed to supporting our customers and communities to ensure we don’t put an undue burden on any shopper."
According to some estimates,100 billion single-use plastic bags are thrown away every year in the United States, and less than 5 percent of them are recycled annually, Kroger said in a press release, further noting that single-use plastic bags are the fifth most-common single-use plastic found in the environment by magnitude.
The new initiative follows several of Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste sustainability program, including the company's goal to divert 90 percent of waste from its landfill by 2020, and providing more than 91 million pounds of safe, nutritious food to local food banks and pantries in 2017.
Kroger's expansive retail footprint consists of 2,800 stores under a variety of banner names in 35 states.
Convenience Store News and Progressive Grocer are properties of EnsembleIQ.