By: The BGGS Waste Reduction Action Team

With nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states under two dozen banners and annual sales of more than $121.1 billion, Kroger Co. today ranks as one of the world’s largest retailers. As such, the company generates a lot of waste. For fourteen years, Kroger has been publishing its annual Environmental, Social, and Governance report that has outlined a strategic plan to meet it Zero Hunger/Zero Waste sustainability goals.

One of those goals was announced in late August of 2018: the company will phase out single-use plastic bags across its family of stores by 2025. Kroger’s QFC division, which ran the pilot program, was the first to phase out single-use plastic bags in 2019. Kroger’s Corporate Affairs, Retail Operations, and Sourcing teams are developing a phase out timeline for the next five years, with input from other stakeholders. This is very good news for those concerned about the environmental impact of single-use plastic.

In an effort to help combat single-use plastic waste, several of Kroger’s plastic packaging items–in addition to many other items–are recyclable in the plastic film recycling containers located in Kroger store entrances. The collected items are recycled into new items, like composite lumber and decking. The following items are accepted:

• Single-use plastic grocery bags
• Stretch wrap
• Bread bags
• Produce bags
• Plastic overwrap for toilet paper, napkins and paper towel
• Plastic overwrap packaging on diapers
• Plastic overwrap on bulk items in cases (e.g. water bottles, snacks)
• Dry cleaning bags
• Plastic retail bags (hard plastic and string handles removed)
• Newspaper sleeves/bags
• Clean and dry plastic food storage bags (e.g. Ziploc bags)
• Tyvek house wrap (with glue, labels or other materials removed)
• Plastic shipping envelopes, bubble wrap and air pillows (deflated with labels removed)
• All clean, dry bags labeled #2 or #4 (polyethylene film)

Some estimates suggest that 100 billion single-use plastic bags are thrown away in the U.S. every year. Currently, less than five percent of plastic bags are recycled annually in America, and single-use plastic bags are the fifth-most common single-use plastic found in the environment by magnitude. By recycling our single-use plastic waste at a local Kroger store, we can all begin to make an impact in this every-growing environmental problem.