Shoppers at Dillons grocery stores can expect to see a change — coming slowly but with a significant impact — as the store announced Thursday it will phase out single-use plastic bags by 2025.
Customers will be encouraged to use reusable bags, although the way that transition will occur is yet to be determined.
Seattle-based Kroger Co., which owns Dillons, is beginning to transition its family of stores across the country, with the first effects to be seen in Seattle-based QFC supermarkets, the company said in a news release.
The move is part of the company’s Zero Hunger — Zero Waste program, which is working to responsibly affect the environment through diverting waste from landfills, increasing food donations, giving money for innovation and working to change public policy around hunger.
“We are phasing out use-once, throw-it-away plastic bags and transitioning to reusable bags in our stores by 2025,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “It’s a bold move that will better protect our planet for future generations.”
The company plans to talk with customers and community partners to determine how to make the transition away from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags.
Estimates vary on the effects of single-use plastic bags on the environment and economy. Estimates have said 4 quadrillion plastic bags are used worldwide, with most not being recycled.
It is worth noting that most studies find that using plastic bags versus paper bags is more environmentally friendly, for a variety of reasons. All About Bags, a Canada-based organization that studies the issue, reports that making plastic bags uses fewer non-renewable resources, requires less energy to manufacture and contributes less to global warming and can also be recycled. Canada has put procedures in place to encourage plastic-bag recycling and is seeing some success, the organization reports online.
Single-use plastic bags are in the top 10 items found during beach debris cleanup, according to the Ocean Conservancy. Also on that list are food wrappers, beverage bottles, straws/stirrers and, in the No. 1 spot, cigarette butts.
As part of its Zero Hunger — Zero Waste program, the Topeka Rescue Mission receives hundreds of pounds of food weekly from the five Topeka Dillons stores.
The food is donated through Harvesters, but officials from the mission go weekly to pick it up for their use, said Kay Ireland, director of distribution services.
“We weigh it every time it comes in,” she said. “It’s about 600 pounds a week.”
The Zero Hunger — Zero Waste initiative aims to divert 90 percent of waste from landfills by 2020. Of the waste diverted today, 66.15 million pounds of plastic and 2.43 billion pounds of cardboard were recycled in 2017.
The Waste Food Rescue Program gave more than 91 million pounds of safe, nutritious food to local food banks and pantries in 2017.