The company trains front service clerks and cashiers to increase the number of items per bag. It has also implemented bag reduction goals for each store, held communication campaigns to encourage the use of reusable bags and donated reusable bags (pictured) to non-profits and partner organizations throughout the southeastern U.S.
Such activities have helped reduce the use of paper and plastic grocery bags by more than one million per day, the company says.
Publix introduced its first 99-cent reusable bags in mid-2007. Since the introduction, Publix locations have sold more than 21 million reusable bags. The grocery chain has offered in-store recycling of paper and plastic bags since the mid-1970s.
In 2011, the company’s overall recycling rate was 49 percent. That year, the grocery chain recycled 221,900 tons of cardboard, 8,800 tons of plastic and 3,200 tons of mixed paper, which helped save about 3.7 million trees, 1.5 billion gallons of water, and 740,000 cubic yards of landfill space.
Publix says that through its pharmacy, it became the first regional supermarket chain to introduce prescription vials made from both new and post-consumer recycled PET plastic. Last year, Publix recycled more than 2.3 million vials returned to its pharmacies by customers, the company said.
In October last year, Publix, Google and UPS were named in the top spots in the Corporate Social Responsibility Index, a ranking of the 50 companies with the best corporate citizenship reputations among the U.S. public. Rounding out the top ten were Kellogg’s, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, FedEx, Campbell’s, Baxter International and 3M.
The 2011 index revealed an overall drop in ratings of companies’ social responsibility, suggesting that the public is now more demanding of companies.
Earlier this year, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment announced plans to eliminate plastic shopping bags from the 10 theme parks it operates by the end of the year. The move will make it the largest theme park operator to make this commitment, according to the company.