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Paper or ... Harris Teeter to phase out plastic

Harris Teeter will phase out plastic bags by 2025, its parent company announced Thursday.

The Kroger Co. said it will phase out single-use plastic bags and transition to reusable bags across its stores by 2025 including the Harris Teeter chain it bought in 2013.

"As part of our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste commitment, we are phasing out use-once, throw-it-away plastic bags and transitioning to reusable bags in our stores by 2025," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "It's a bold move that will better protect our planet for future generations."

Some estimates suggest that 100 billion single-use plastic bags are thrown away in the U.S. every year. Currently, less than five percent of plastic bags are recycled annually in America, and single-use plastic bags are the fifth-most common single-use plastic found in the environment by magnitude.

Kroger will solicit customer feedback and work with NGOs and community partners to ensure a responsible transition.

"We listen very closely to our customers and our communities, and we agree with their growing concerns," said Mike Donnelly, Kroger's executive vice president and COO. "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."

Seattle-based QFC will be the company's first retail division to phase out single-use plastic bags. The company expects QFC's transition to be completed in 2019.

Kroger's announcement follows several other Zero Hunger/Zero Waste initiatives, including:

  • Kroger's goal to divert 90% of waste from the landfill by 2020. Of the waste diverted today, 66.15 million pounds of plastic and 2.43 billion pounds of cardboard were recycled in 2017.
  • Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Food Rescue Program sent more than 91 million pounds of safe nutritious food to local food banks and pantries in 2017. Kroger provided more than 325 million meals to families in need last year, in food and funds combined.