Pick 'n Save plans to phase out plastic bags over next six years

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Kroger, the parent company to Pick 'n Save and several other grocery chains, announced it's phasing out single-use plastic bags by 2025.

"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," Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO, said. "It's a bold move that will better protect our planet for future generations."

The company estimates 100 billion single-use plastic bags are thrown away every year in the U.S.

"They’re thrown out and they’re not biodegradable and they go in our waterways, they clog everything, so Kroger is trying to eliminate waste and this is one good way to do this," said Laura Porteous, store supervisor at a Madison Pick 'n Save.

The move is to encourage shoppers to start transitioning to reusable bags. Other changes as part of the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative include Kroger's goal to "divert 90% of waste form the landfill by 2020" and increase efforts to reduce child hunger.

Some Pick 'n Save customers in Madison are excited about the change. Marjorie Melby shops at Pick 'n Save almost every day, and she said she is glad they are doing something about plastic pollution.

"I just don’t like all the plastics in the ocean which you read about, it’s not just plastic bags, it’s just all the plastic. Little army men and anything and it’s just hideous, and we have to do something about it. It’s maybe a minor thing, but every little bit helps," she said.

Even customers like Max Voelkli who use plastic bags said this is a good idea.

"I think it is has a big effect on the ocean too and the landfills and everything, so it's a thing that needs to be done," Voelkli said.

Porteous said she has already seen more people bringing in reusable bags. She thinks Kroger's initiative will make a difference.

"They have so many stores that they can really make an impact on several people, not just here in Madison but all over the country," she said.

Pick 'n Save is not the only grocery store moving in this direction. Madison's Willy Street Co-op has never used plastic bags at checkout. Communications director Brendon Smith said it has to become routine.

"Recycling used to be kind of an unusual thing and now it's pretty typical. So I think all things start that way and it can seem kind of insurmountable but it has to start somewhere," he said.

Other grocery stores like Woodman's and Metcalfe's are also trying to phase out plastic bags and reduce waste. Woodman's said it would like to get rid of plastic bags by 2024.