Kroger enlists in war on plastic

The nation's largest supermarket operator is the latest retailer to join the attack on all things plastic.

Kroger further advances its ‘Zero Hunger, Zero Waste’ commitment by becoming one of the largest retailers to say good-bye to plastic.

The company announced that it will phase out single-use plastic bags and transition to reusable bags across its family of stores by 2025. Seattle-based Quality Food Centers (QFC), a subsidiary of Kroger, will be the company's first retail division to phase out single-use plastic bags. The company expects QFC's transition to be completed in 2019.

"As part of our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste commitment, 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 Chief Executive Officer. "It's a bold move that will better protect our planet for future generations."

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.

As a result, other major retailers, such as Ikea, have announced their commitment to phasing out the utilization of single-use plastic bags in their stores. In June, Ikea announced that its company has plans to phase out all single-use plastic products from its stores and restaurants by 2020, amid growing concern about the effects of plastic on the environment. Ikea said plastic straws, plates, cups, freezer bags, bin bags, and plastic-coated paper plates and cups would all be phased out and, where possible, replaced by alternatives.

Kroger's announcement follows several other Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiatives at scale, including:  

  • Kroger's goal to divert 90% of waste from the landfill by 2020. Of the waste diverted today, 66.15 million pounds of plastic and 2.43 billion pounds of cardboard were recycled in 2017.

  • Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Food Rescue Program sent more than 91 million pounds of safe nutritious food to local food banks and pantries in 2017. Kroger provided more than 325 million meals to families in need last year, in food and funds combined.

"We listen very closely to our customers and our communities, and we agree with their growing concerns," said Mike Donnelly, Kroger's Executive Vice President and 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."

Kroger will solicit customer feedback and work with NGOs and community partners to ensure a responsible transition.