Kroger brags about not using plastic bags

Early adopters of reusable grocery bags probably remember the reactions of confounded cashiers and baggers, who weren’t sure what to make of shoppers who wanted neither paper nor plastic. But the practice has become so commonplace, shoppers rarely have to ask a bagger to stop shrouding their groceries in plastic before placing them in a reusable bag. Pretty much everyone’s gotten with the program, at least from the store employee side of the equation.

On the way out of the Gwinnett Street Kroger store earlier this week, I noticed the cling decal, right, on the window. By saving bags, in this case, Kroger means not giving so many away and fitting more into the bags they do, according to the 2010 Kroger Sustainability Report.

Curious about how the 138,825 bags figure was tallied, I called Kroger headquarters and got the answer. Nationwide, Kroger claims to have saved 159 million plastic bags.

“The way we account for bag savings is pretty simple,” said Keith Dailey, Kroger’s director of corporate communications. It turns out that the 159 million bag figure is derived from some 80 thousand cases of plastic bags the company did not order, based on the previous year figures. “It’s likely they did the same calculations at the store level,” he said, to arrive at the 138,825 bags saved number for Gwinnett Street. Dailey confirmed the reduction in bag use was achieved by promoting (and selling) reusable bags and training baggers to be more efficient.

Kroger’s sustainability report also describes the company’s efforts to reduce its energy and carbon footprint, improve transportation efficiency and reduce waste. While the word “bicycle” does not appear anywhere in the 32 page document (I hoped to see bicycles mentioned in the “Enabling Customer Sustainability” section), it’s worth noting that the Gwinnett Street Kroger provides more bicycle parking than any other store of any kind in Savannah. And it’s right at the front door, not out by the loading dock or on the side of the building. Providing ample and convenient bike parking clearly enables customers to make sustainable transportation choices. They should put that in the next sustainability report.

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About John Bennett

Transportation, land use, local farming and green building are all potential topics for Sustainable Savannah. The goal is to aggregate content about local events and projects, so there will be a central place to review everything that’s happening. The site is aimed at encouraging collaboration and information sharing between groups and individuals currently engaged in sustainability efforts. The site can also provide a snapshot of Savannah for green-minded people who are considering visiting or moving to the area.

2 thoughts on “Kroger brags about not using plastic bags

  1. Laura McLeod

    Good to know those 159m plastic bags won’t be added to the great patch o’ plastic in the Pacific, or impacting birds and wildlife. And that 80,000 of unordered cases of plastic bags is a pretty impressive number, too. Here in Seattle, we’re almost OCD about bringing our bags when we shop, and reusing when we forget and had to choose between paper and plastic. I’m happy to know that Savannahians are on the same track, as I hope to be one in the not-to-distant future. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Alix Michele

    Good evening,

    My name is Alix and I am a graduate student in the Design for Sustainability program at SCAD. I am currently working on my MA Final Project with Scott Boylston’s class and my project is based around creating a plastic bag reduction within the city of Savannah. Would you happen to have any information on other stores within the city that are doing things like Kroger is doing? Or any ideas on how I should approach this movement?

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