Kroger strives to eliminate plastic bags at all stores, including ones in Southern Utah

Composite photo of plastic bags overlaid on a file photo of the outside of a Smith's Food and Drug store in Cedar City, Utah, May 2, 2015 | File photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Executives at Smith’s and other Kroger stores across the nation are hoping shoppers will ditch disposable bags in favor of more environmentally-friendly ones.

Bagged purchases fill a cart at a Kroger grocery store in Flowood, Miss., June 15, 2017. The nation’s largest grocery chain will phase out the use of plastic bags in its stores by 2025. | Associated Press file photo by Rogelio V. Solis, St. George News

Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery chain, will begin phasing out the use of plastic disposable bags at its stores by 2025. That includes all Smith’s Food and Drug stores in Utah like the two in St. George or the one in Cedar City. While brown paper bags may be available, Smith’s corporate affairs manager Aubriana Martindale told St. George News the goal is to completely transition to reusable bags.

“The goal is to use not paper, not plastic, but reusable bags at all our stores,” she said.

Although the transition to reusable bags was announced by Smith’s parent company Kroger, the plan works into Smith’s  “zero hunger, zero waste” initiative. Completely eliminating plastic bags will help Smith’s with its goal of diverting 90 percent of waste away from landfills.

“We want to help benefit our planet,” she said. “The stores in which we operate are built right into our neighborhood communities and eliminating waste is the right thing to do.”


Read more: Southern Utah business owners join movement to eliminate plastic straws


Incentives like giving gas points to customers who use reusable bags are already in place at Smith’s stores, so Martindale said she hopes customers start using reusable bags today and not wait until 2025. Reusable bags will be sold at Smith’s store for $1-$2, and for each one sold, Smith’s will donate a meal to a hungry family in the community through the Utah Food Bank.

The reason the 2025 deadline to completely eliminate plastic bags is so far away is to allow the transition to be phased out gradually over time, Martindale said. So far, 150 cities with Kroger stores, not including St. George or Cedar City, have already begun eliminating plastic bags.

Kroger orders about 6 billion bags each year for its stores in 35 states and Washington, D.C., which cater to nearly 9 million people daily through two dozen different grocery chains like Smith’s.

The U.S. each year generates more than 4 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Only about 13 percent of that plastic is recycled.

David Pinsky, of Greenpeace, lauded the shift at Kroger, saying plastic pollution is killing sea life as well as impacting the health of humans. He said:

Kroger’s decision to phase out single-use plastic bags is a testament to how consumers are demanding action on plastics from retailers nationwide. Kroger should build upon this effort by getting rid of additional types of single-use plastic. Plastic bags are important for retailers to eliminate, but so are plastic bottles, Styrofoam trays, and plastic-wrapped fruit and vegetables.

Anyone else with ideas on how to effectively eliminate waste at Smith’s grocery stores is asked to post in on social media using #zerohungerzerowaste.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Email: sricks@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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17 Comments

  • ScanMeister August 24, 2018 at 11:53 am

    Hawaii banned plastic grocery bags statewide several years ago. We generate and dispose of way too much plastic.

  • 42214 August 24, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Good idea, long over due.

  • NotSoFast August 24, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Buy your new reusable bag from us for about $2.00. And trust me, were not making a profit on these bags. (har har). Were doing this for the environment.
    Reminds me of the sales pitch ‘get rid of your A/C unit with that nasty Freon gas that’s destroying the atmosphere. And if/ when you have to buy a new friendly unit because you can’t have your unit repaired anymore, just smile and write a check for a few thousand bucks. (hum, will auto a/c be next?)
    And remember, GE and other manufactures, Al Gore, the EPA, fish in the ocean will all thank you for participating in saving the planet.

    • 42214 August 24, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      If you can’t afford $2 bring your own bag.

      • NotSoFast August 24, 2018 at 3:53 pm

        Can I bring my own used plastic bags?

    • NotSoFast August 24, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      And when straws, fountain drink cups and lids are eliminated at Burger King, don’t forget to bring your own used ones back in for use. (Don’t they do that already in India, China and Mexico?

  • Southpaw August 24, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I was an executive for a major grocery company for over 30 years. The cost of providing bags to customers cost over a million dollars per year for my company which was much smaller than Kroeger. Oh yes, they are doing this to be kind to the environment, which is a good thing regarding plastic bags. So they are not going to offer paper bags instead that are biodegradeable? Oh yeah, they’re not doing it to save money. What a crock. . .

  • Kilroywashere August 24, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    I like the idea, but I am one of those people that always forgets a bag. I know, there is no excuse, but I shop in a spontaneous manner, spur of the moment type of way. On the other side of the equation I pick up plastic bags all the time when hiking out in the desert, especially after windy days. So they do impact the environment. So it’s a good idea, but I will no doubt encounter future difficulties if they don’t have a backup plan. I don’t see buying a $2 bag every time. I am shopping-challenged but cans always deal with groceries in a loose state if necessary.

    • NotSoFast August 24, 2018 at 9:34 pm

      Been there, done that Kilroy.
      Some states charge a 10 cent recycling fee for aluminum cans. Why not for recyclable plastic bags? Or maybe Smith’s could supply paper bags for free. Then deduct the cost from their bottom line. I don’t live in a community that has those Blue trash containers for ‘recyclable items only’. Can’t plastic bags go in there?
      Or maybe handle the problem ‘The COSTCO WAY’– At checkout they ask ‘Would you like a box for all this junk? If no, then wheel the cart to your car and throw the stuff in the trunk. If yes, you just got cardboard boxes to cut up and throw away in the trash can.

    • bikeandfish August 25, 2018 at 12:02 am

      in the same boat. We have 6-8 resusable bags but I only remember them about half the time.

  • Daisy August 25, 2018 at 6:55 am

    Lots of people reuse the plastic bags in other ways such as for. At litter waste or dog waste. If people don’t get the bags at the store, they just buy them. Use of plastic bags may be reduced somewhat but unless plastic bags are outlawed entirely, which is not likely, there will still be a lot of plastic bags in the waste stream. Why not let people decide on whether they want bags or not? That would be a free market solution. Otherwise, it is plastic bag fascism.

  • Striker4 August 25, 2018 at 7:05 am

    I have been using my own reusable bags for years

    • Real Life August 25, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Huffing paint with them don’t count.

  • Mike P August 25, 2018 at 8:57 am

    We have been using reusable bags for close to a decade. We store them in the back of the car so we have them handy for shopping. (of course, I usually forget to bring them in with me) I think the stores are trying to force us to use & buy reusable bags by making their plastic bags so thin they tear the bottom out and the paper bags are designed so the handy “handles” tear off while your carrying them. They figure you’ll eventually get tired of picking your groceries up off the ground and buy their bags.

  • tazzman August 25, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Can you bring your own plastic ones? I keep all of mine.

    The paper ones in some of the stores would be fine but the handles need a lot of work.

  • Brian August 25, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    Studies have shown that reusable bags are massive breeding grounds for germs, including serious ones. So if you use them, wash them frequently.

  • Redbud August 26, 2018 at 3:29 am

    That’s my biggest concern is reusing them seems so unsanitary. Let’s say you get raw chicken juice all over the bottom of the bag, then you forget to clean it. You take it to the store next time, and put all your fresh fruits and vegetables in that bag you forgot to clean. I will stick with plastic bags for now, and once Smith’s bans them, I’ll shop somewhere else.

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