Kroger’s Quality Food Center (QFC), recently announced it will no longer offer single-use plastic bags in any stores starting April 1, six years ahead of Kroger’s 2025 commitment.
The Bellevue-based supermarket chain, with numerous locations throughout the Eastside, had previously committed to banning all plastic bags in its stores by the end of 2019, but decided to phase out the bags even earlier after a successful pilot in Eastside stores.
“We saw how it worked in the stores and what the customers’ response was,” QFC spokesperson, Zach Stratton said. “It was all positive. So we took a step back, re-evaluated and decided to move on this quick time frame with the rest of our remaining stores.”
In total, five Eastside locations served as a pilot for the phase-out. They were chosen due to their proximity to other locations that fall within a legislative bag ban.
“You know how environmentally friendly we are in the Pacific Northwest,” Stratton said. “We listen to our customers closely and they’re telling us this is something that they want and that we need to do. We’re taking that to heart.”
The phase out is part of Kroger’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste campaign that aims to help end hunger in the communities they serve and eliminate waste throughout the company. The mission will not only donate more food to those in need, but donate healthy foods and eventually move to primarily reusable bags.
QFC also will be donating funds to The Nature Conservatory throughout the month of April — for each 99-cent reusable bag purchased, the supermarket chain will donate $1, up to $10,000. The Nature Conservatory is a charity organization that was started in 1951 and aims to promote conservation and find solutions to related issues.
“We know that simply switching from single-use plastic to single-use paper bags is not the long-term solution,” said Suzy Monford, president of QFC. “That’s why we are partnering with The Nature Conservancy and inviting customers to use reusable bags and join us as we work to create zero waste neighborhoods.”
“You still have people who use them for walking their dogs or small trash bins in their home,” Stratton added. “So we want to provide other options for that and then still move in the environmentally friendly way we are now in getting rid of these plastics.”
According to Stratton, QFC goes through millions of plastic bags each year. Plastic bags can spend hundreds of years decomposing in landfills and often end up in streams, rivers, lakes and roadsides.
The change will only affect about half of QFC locations, the others are already in jurisdictions with a legislative plastic bag ban. QFC will be the first of Kroger’s chains to complete the transition to no plastic bags. Currently, each QFC also offers plastic bag recycling.
“With Earth Day approaching, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to eliminate plastic bags and take the next step in our Zero Hunger Zero Waste journey,” Monford said. “We listen closely to our customers and our communities, and we agree with their growing concerns about continuing to rely on use-once, throw-it-away plastic bags. More and more, customers are telling us that using a bag once and throwing it away just doesn’t make sense.”
Fred Meyer, another Kroger supermarket chain, will also phase out plastic bags by 2025 and is currently working to find the best option.
“We’re excited to lead the way in this,” Stratton said. “It’ll be exciting for us to be able to say we don’t have any single-use plastic bags in the front of our stores and be done with them. We ask customers to go on this journey with us, be patient with our stores, and know they’re working through this as well. But we’re doing it for a good reason — we know it’s the right thing to do, and our customers are asking for it.”