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Whole Foods Plans Nationwide Plastic Bag Ban

Whole Foods Market is no longer offering plastic grocery bags at the checkouts in its two stores in Austin, Texas. The company says that the move in Austin, where the supermarket is headquartered,  is the first step to ban plastic bags companywide by early next year. Paper bags made for Whole Foods from 100 percent recycled content will continue to be an option for shoppers.

“Let’s face it, plastic bags fill landfills, harm our water systems and wildlife, and litter our roadsides and communities,” said Seth Stutzman, Whole Foods Market’s Southwest regional vice president. “We are discontinuing the use of these bags in support of our Core Value of ‘caring for our Communities and our Environment,’ which includes adopting wise environmental practices.”

At the Austin stores, the Company is also increasing the refund from five cents to ten cents per bag to shoppers who bring their own bags to use at the checkouts. Whole Foods is now selling “A Better Bag,” a “stylish” reusable bag made from 80 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. It will sell for 99 cents at checkout areas in all Whole Foods Markets stores nationwide.
The plastic bag ban isn’t sitting too well with the Progressive Bag Alliance, a non-profit association of plastic bag manufacturers. The group was quick to issue a statement saying that any plan to replace plastic bags with paper bags will yield negative impacts on the environment.

“This is a great opportunity for a popular brand to use its platform to communicate key facts to the public about grocery bags,” said PBA Chairman Isaac Bazbaz.  “We encourage Whole Foods to be rigorous and transparent in its test campaign so that the world can better understand that plastic bags have less environmental impact and that the best approach is to increase recycling of plastic bags.”

Other recent plastic bag news:

NYC stores that use plastic bags may soon be required to recycle them, under New York City Council legislation recently  introduced.

In a merger of environmental concern and fashion sensibility, big-name designers have introduced eco-chic grocery totes, while lawmakers in New York, Boston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and elsewhere debate San Francisco-style bans on non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic bags

A number of retailers around the world have pledged to reduce plastic bag use. IKEA recently began charging customers for plastic bags.

Also, in Japan, the practice of charging for plastic bags is spreading.

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