The nation's largest grocery chain will be free of plastic bags 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's been proactive in reducing plastic use, the AP reports. 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 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 and 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," says 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's a broader shift underway at major US corporations to reduce waste. Disney, Starbucks, Marriott, and McDonald's are getting rid of plastic straws, and 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. Meanwhile, Dunkin' Donuts is phasing out polystyrene foam cups by 2020, and Ikea plans to eliminate single-use plastic products from its shelves by 2020. (At one company, meat is off the menu.)