Big Y stores and gas stations will no longer offer single-use plastic bags as of next year.
According to Vice President of Corporate Communications for Big Y, Claire D’Amour-Daley, 70 stores and gas stations will be impacted by the change in 2020.
Plastic bag bans have been in effect since 2014 at stores in Adams, Amherst, Great Barrington, Lee, Northampton, and South Hadley. Daley said customers have been supportive of environmentally responsible business practices.
Big Y’s experience with those stores is said to have “prompted officials to evaluate the possibility of a chain-wide ban.” Several Big Y stores are located in cities and towns that have banned single-use plastic bags, and the grocer said after seeing success in switching to reusable there, they decided to make the move chain-wide.
The question paper or plastic will soon be a thing of the past at Big Y stores.
“Single-use plastic bags can no longer be viewed as a long term solution for our stores,” said Big Y Vice President, Richard Bossie. “Our customers and the communities we serve have made it quite clear that they prefer more environmentally friendly alternatives.”
Currently, Big Y uses 100 million plastic bags and 3.5 million paper bags each year.
Daley said paper bags are not an answer to the waste problem “as the paper production process is harmful to the environment, causing increased greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation.”
For the rest of 2019, Big Y will offer special discounted prices and promotions on reusable bags that can be cleaned with soap and water or a disinfectant wipe.
Big Y’s plastic bags are currently printed with some surprising statistics. Letting shoppers know that one reusable bag can replace hundreds of plastic ones. Big Y currently operates in six communities that have already enacted bans on single-use plastic bags, and the company decided they wanted to do its part to cut down on plastic waste.
“We use about 100 million plastic bags and about three and a half million paper bags at all of our checkouts,” said Michael Matyszewski, store director at the Big Y in Chicopee. “We are going to be going with our reusable bag program throughout the year.”
Big Y aims to phase out plastic bags by 2020. In the meantime, the grocer will have discounts and promotions on their reusable bags throughout the year to ease the transition. A move one shopper said might help customers embrace the idea.
“I think it’s a good idea to help save the environment, I think it’s a good effort, but I think a lot of people will forget,” said Kimberlee Harrington in Chicopee. “I think a special, like a discount on a bag, will appeal to more people because the sales and advertisements draw people in.”
According to the EPA, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the US every year.
Big Y stores do currently collect single-use plastic bags from their customers and recycle them.