SPRINGFIELD, MA –Big Y Foods, Inc. has announced its plan to eliminate single use plastic bags at the checkouts from its 70 supermarkets and specialty stores along with its Big Y Express Gas and Convenience locations in 2020.
The company has been complying with single use plastic bag bans in 6 of its local communities in Massachusetts (Adams, Amherst, Great Barrington, Lee, Northampton, South Hadley) since 2014. Customers in those communities are delighted with the ban, are supportive of environmentally responsible business practices and have been strong proponents of using reusable bags as an alternative to plastic and paper. Big Y’s experience within these 6 markets prompted officials to evaluate the possibility of a chain-wide ban.
Single use plastic bags create an inordinate amount of waste. According to the EPA, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States each year. If not disposed of properly, this plastic can end up in waterways and forests where it can harm fish, marine animals, birds and other wildlife.
Big Y recognizes its responsibility to cut down on unnecessary plastic waste that contributes to litter, harms the environment and can endanger wildlife. Currently Big Y uses 100 million plastic bags and 3.5 million paper bags at their checkouts each year. The company also recognizes that paper is not the answer to this waste problem as the paper production process is harmful to the environment causing increased greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation.
A sustainable option for customers is the use of reusable bags that should be washed regularly with soap and water or wiped clean with a disinfectant wipe. Big Y’s goal is to shift completely to reusable bags in 2020.
In order to ease the transition, Big Y will be offering special discounted pricing and promotions on their reusable bags throughout 2019.
According to Richard D. Bossie, Big Y vice president of store operations, “single use plastic bags can no longer be viewed as a long term solution for our stores. Our customers and the communities we serve have made it quite clear that they prefer more environmentally friendly alternatives. We look forward to implementing this new program in all of our retail locations. ”
Currently, Big Y collects single use plastic bags from customers at each store and sends them to recycling plants for use in decking. Other sustainability efforts include almost daily donations to the 5 food banks
within Big Y’s marketing area including meat, produce and bakery items. Big Y locations also participate in paper and cardboard recycling programs and composting. In addition they have championed other energy saving initiatives such as the use of solar arrays, LED lighting and even electric car charging stations to help protect the environment and conserve natural resources.