Kroger Is Ditching Plastic Bags by 2025 

(Bloomberg) -- The largest grocery chain in the U.S. will phase out single-use plastic bags at all its locations by 2025 as sustainable packaging becomes a growing focus for corporations and consumers alike.

Kroger Co. will eliminate traditional plastic bags at its Seattle-based QFC supermarket chain by the end of 2019 before rolling out the change across all its stores. Customers will have the option to use paper bags for now if they don’t have reusable totes, “but we don’t view that as the long-term solution,” said Jessica Adelman, Kroger’s vice president of corporate affairs. The move eventually will eliminate an estimated 6 billion single-use bags of the about 100 billion thrown away in the U.S. each year.

“We are giving ourselves a decent runway between now and 2025,” Adelman said. “We don’t want to put any undue burdens on customers instantaneously -- we have to be measured and thoughtful on how we make this transition.”

Single-use plastic is increasingly coming under fire as debris flows into the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes, and major companies such as McDonald’s Corp. and Kraft Heinz Co. are trying to increase recycling and reduce waste. Earlier this week, PepsiCo Inc. announced plans to buy SodaStream International Ltd., which has long touted the benefits of its reusable containers as consumers make soft drinks at home.

Voter Ban

Cincinnati-based Kroger had a natural place to start in Seattle, where a plastic-bag ban that went into effect in 2012 already had affected some of its QFC locations.

“Based on the law that was passed, we know voters care about that -- otherwise known as our customers,” Adelman said. Investors are taking notice as well, she said, with shareholders asking more questions about sustainability than ever before.

Kroger declined to provide the expected cost to the company or to say which market will be next for plastic-bag removal, though Adelman said it won’t necessarily be in a coastal Blue State.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.