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Plastic Bags on the Decline at Market Basket

Market Basket joined 11 other supermarket chains in a voluntary disposable bag reduction effort with MassDEP

How many plastic grocery bags do you have in your house right now?  Every time you buy anything, a plastic bag is most likely used.  There are lots of . They litter our streets, waste natural resources, and can expose us to toxins.

In 2007, the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and Massachusetts Food Association (MFA) recognized this problem.  Together they set a goal of a one-third reduction in the number of paper and plastic bags used by 2013.  Over 500 grocery stores are members of the MFA, including Market Basket.  This effort was voluntary in nature.  The idea was to encourage people to bring reusable bags.

From a flyer created by the two groups, the MFA members committed to:

  • Promoting the use of reusable bags 
  • Providing in store plastic bag recycling bins for customers 
  • Offering reusable shopping bags for sale made with recycled content
  • Using disposable bags with more recycled content

According to Keith Peters, a manager at , they have seen a 40-50% increase in the number of shoppers bringing reusable bags.  Plastic and paper bag use has decreased approximately 20%.  Peters stated that signs were used to encourage shoppers to bring reusable bags.   “Choose to Reuse” was the slogan, although the signs are not being used now.

Some stores, such as Stop and Shop and Hannaford, gave a 5 cent discount for each reusable bag.  Stop and Shop and Whole Foods still give 5 cents.

In November 2011, the MFA and MassDEP announced that the goal of a 33 % reduction in the use of disposable bags was reached 2 years ahead of schedule.  The groups will continue to work together to encourage this trend. 

Many cities around the country have implemented bag bans or charge for plastic or paper bags.  Washington D.C. instituted a 5 cent tax on plastic and paper bags in January 2010.  In one year, $2 million was collected to clean up the Anacostia River.  A study in 2008 found that plastic bags made up 21% of the trash in the river and 40% in its tributaries.  The law was estimated to generate closer to $4 million in the first year.  Obviously, people are not using disposable bags.  The ban is estimated to have created a 50% decrease and it is viewed as one of the most successful programs in the country.

For the bags that you still accumulate, stores have plastic bag recycling stations.  Every grocery store in and near Westford has one.  At Market Basket, look for a white barrel container near the far exit.  .  The list includes:

  • Grocery bags
  • Newspaper bags
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Retail shopping bags (with strings and rigid plastic handles removed)
  • Bread, cereal and produce bags
  • Plastic wrap from paper products and bulk items (think wrapping around toilet paper and paper towels)
  • All clean, clear bags labeled with a #2 or #4 recycling symbol

All plastic must be CLEAN AND DRY!

These bags should not be put in your curbside container. 

It takes a while to adopt new habits.  It took me almost a year to consistently remember my reusable bags.   I used quite a few helpful hints to do it.  Just keep at it.

Janet May 08, 2012 at 12:49 PM
I can't see how I'll have much trash at all now! Thanks for the info! What about the plastic zip lock & sandwich bags? And what does MB do with these bags? I have heard that they just get thrown out.
Kristina Greene May 08, 2012 at 05:17 PM
I know Janet. I didn't realize cereal bags could go into these bins. I believe that zip lock bags can go in here as long as they are CLEAN, DRY, and you cut off the top. The manager I spoke to said they are sent to "Market Basket Corporate" where they are recycled. Couldn't verify that, but I know that at other stores, they are made into Trex decking.
Evelyn May 13, 2012 at 01:23 AM
hey let's stop making disposible diapers. That is one of the biggest trash problems in the world today.
Kristina Greene May 15, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I hear you Evelyn! When I think of how many my 3 children went through, it makes me sick. But I just wasn't at the same point then. Cloth diapers have come a long way and I hope more people are considering them. I certainly would use them if I were to do it all over again.
Kathleen Spaeth May 21, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I have to admit that I just started using my "reusable shopping bags" when I go shopping at CVS. CVS sells some of their own (at .99) and then you can purchase one of their "Green Bag Tags" (at .99), that you attach to the reusable bags and then make sure that it gets swiped with your CVS Extra Care Card each time you shop. You get credit for using the reusable bags and the tag, and eventually will get an Extra Care $1.00 Buck for your redemption at CVS (you receive this every third time of use). You don't have to use the CVS bags to qualify (you can use your own), but you must purchase a CVS Green Tag to use to get credit. It might seem complicated, but before you know it you have paid yourself back for using your reusable bags and your are helping to keep those plastic bags from being used. I also try to use my reusable shopping bags at Market Basket also (especially my large reusable "insulated refrigerator/freezer bags). But, please keep in mind that you can reuse all those plastic bags around your house (i.e.: use them to clean up after your animals and to put something very smelly (think half-eaten food stuff) in your garbage and you don't want to get rid of the half-full trash bag yet). Yes, I realize that this might not be the best use of the plastic bags, but it is a good way to reuse them (if you don't recycle them back to the store).
Kathleen Spaeth May 21, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Also when I shop at the Market Basket, I have my "canned goods" packed in paper bags and then I re-use these paper bags to hold all my "paper recycling" that goes out for our bi-weekly curbside collection here in Tyngsboro. In Tyngsboro, we must use paper bags to hold all our paper recycling and on an average we are putting out at least 6 paper bags at each curbside collection. So I don't want the paper bags to be discontinued at Market Basket, but I have noticed that they do complain a bit when I ask for them (and I have to be a bit forceful to re-ask for them again). They have also changed the width ply (think thinner) and the height (think shortened them) so it is a bit harder to pack items inside them now. You can also recycle these bags (if you have extra, which we never seem to do) curbside with your recycling. Thanks also for the update on what is accepted for "plastic recycling" at the Market Basket. Did you also know that the reusable shopping bags that they sell at the Market Basket are made by a local (think Lawrence, Massachusetts) vendor that employs "legal" female immigrants to make them. There was a wonderful write-up about his business in the Lowell Sun a few months back!
Kristina Greene May 22, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Thanks Kathleen. I really like those reusable bags made locally. They work grea and are pretty :) Hannaford has them now too.
Harriet Rodman July 28, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Remember the days, when the bagger would ask, "paper or plastic?" Do you hear that any more? I have approached Market basket headquarters in Tewskbury on several ocassions to ask why one sees only plastic to load groceries. The paper bags are "hiding". My call was ignored once..and the second time I heard nothing but excuses for not making paper bags more visable. I had even spoken with my Dad, who was EX VP of Purity Supreme. He reminded me that MB is a business trying to make money. Plastic is cheaper than paper. Sorry to all your believers who think that Market Basket really cares.........They, management, claim there is no room to put paper bags on top.............well I have an idea. Ask Market Basket to put paper bags on top.....and plastic bags underneath where paper bags are now stored. As a retired teacher, I plan to try to bring more awareness to school kids. Those who are still teaching can play a huge role by making kids more responsible (encouage parents.....) I had a large drive for the MSPCA @ my former school......just bringing in plastic containers. We raised over $500. I would love to help in any way I can........you may reach me @ hrshelties@verizon.net.

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