CINCINNATI, Ohio, August 27, 2018 (ENS) – The Kroger Co. will phase out single-use plastic bags and transition to reusable bags across its family of more than 2,770 retail food stores by 2025, the grocery giant announced on Thursday.

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.

“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.”

Kroger

Plastic bags at a Kroger store in Memphis, Tennessee, 2009 (Photo by Kmo139)

Some estimates suggest that 100 billion single-use plastic bags are thrown away in the United States every year. Currently, fewer than five percent of plastic bags are recycled annually, and single-use plastic bags are the fifth-most common single-use plastic found in the environment.

Kroger will solicit customer feedback and work with nongovernmental organizations 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.”

Kroger’s announcement follows several other Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiatives at scale, including:

Kroger’s goal is to divert 90 percent 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.

Last week, Kroger was named to “Fortune” magazine’s Change the World 2018 list, debuting in the sixth spot.

The recognition highlights the work of 57 big companies across the world using their resources to solve societal problems. The company was recognized for its social impact plan Zero Hunger | Zero Waste.

Nearly half the food produced in the United States is thrown away, yet 40 million Americans go hungry. Kroger is tackling these issues simultaneously, aiming to eradicate hunger in communities where it operates and to eliminate internal waste by 2025.

Last year Kroger donated the equivalent of 325 million meals through a partnership with Feeding America; for 2025, the company’s goal is three billion meals.

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