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Kroger to phase out plastic bags at all stores

August 23, 2018
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The Kroger on the northwest corner of 116th Street and Allisonville Road is slated for a multimillion-dollar remodeling. (IBJ photo/Jeff Newman)

The nation's largest grocery chain plans to be plastic-bag free at all of its nearly 2,800 stores by 2025.

Kroger Co., which orders about 6 billion bags each year, will begin phasing out their use immediately at one of its chains based in Seattle, a city that has been proactive on reducing plastic use.

The company, based in Cincinnati, operates 2,779 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia, serving almost 9 million people daily through two dozen different grocery chains.

Kroger is the biggest grocery player in the Indianapolis-area market, according to 2017 data from Chain Store Guide, with more than 50 stores and a market share approaching 40 percent, well ahead of Walmart's 24 percent share and Meijer's 12 percent share.

“It is a bold move that will better protect our planet for future generations,”Pam Matthews, president of Kroger Central Division., said in written remarks.

Kroger is seeking customer feedback and will be working with outside groups throughout the transition.

It will begin phasing out plastic bag use Thursday at its QFC stores in and around Seattle. It expects to be plastic-bag free at the chain next year.

"We listen very closely to our customers and our communities, and we agree with their growing concerns," said Mike Donnelly, Kroger's chief operating officer. "That's why, starting today at QFC, we will begin the transition to more sustainable options. This decision aligns with our Restock Kroger commitment to live our purpose through social impact."

There is a broader shift under way at major U.S. corporations to reduce waste. Disney, Starbucks, Marriott and McDonald's are getting rid of plastic straws. McDonald's said this year that it will use only recycled or other environmentally friendly materials for its soda cups, Happy Meal boxes and other packaging by 2025. Dunkin' Donuts is phasing out polystyrene foam cups by 2020. Ikea plans to eliminate single-use plastic products from its shelves by 2020.

Indiana passed a law in 2016 that prevents city and county officials from taxing or restricting the use of disposable plastic bags by grocery stores and other retailers.

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