Kroger To Phase Out Plastic Bags At All Its Grocery Stores Over 7 Years

Edgar Joseph loads plastic grocery bags into his car outside of a Fry's Food & Drug Store in Phoenix, Arizona Sept. 26, 2018. Kroger, which owns Fry’s, will phase out plastic bags by 2025. (Photo by Nicole Neri/Cronkite News)

By Stephanie Morse

PHOENIX – Kroger, owner of Fry’s Foods in Arizona, will phase out plastic bags by 2025, becoming the latest company to respond to the backlash against single-use plastics.

The grocery chain will transition to reusable bags in all 2,800 stores, starting in the Seattle area.

Pam Giannonatti, spokeswoman for the Fry’s Food division of Kroger, said she doesn’t know when the transition will start in Arizona. In the meantime, she hopes customers will start changing their habits.

“We’re highly encouraging our customers to shift their shopping habits and use reusable bags,” Giannonatti said. “We’re not taking away the bags tomorrow.”

The plastic bag phaseout is part of the Zero Hunger, Zero Waste initiative at Kroger, which is the largest grocer nationwide and the market-share leader in Arizona with 123 stores. The grocer is aiming to become zero waste by 2020 and is trying to minimize food waste by 2025.

“It’s about being a leader,” Giannonatti said. “It’s the right thing to do for the environment and for the coming generations.”

Kroger is the most recent large company to eliminate or reduce single-use plastics in response to environmental concerns. Disney, Starbucks and McDonald’s recently announced plans to get rid of plastic straws.

Chuck Nolan loads plastic grocery bags into his car outside of a Fry’s Food & Drug Store in Phoenix, Arizona Sept. 26, 2018. Krogers, which owns Fry’s, will transition to reusable bags in all of its 2,800 stores by 2025. (Photo by Nicole Neri)

Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and other cities also have taken up the fight against plastic waste with bans or fees on plastic bags.

Similar efforts have been tried in Arizona. Bisbee passed an ordinance in 2012 that banned retailers from providing plastic bags. A few years later Flagstaff and Tempe considered similar ordinances.

But in 2015, the legislature prohibited cities and municipalities from regulating plastic bags and other single-use containers. Supporters say the law was needed because retail organizations and state lawmakers were concerned about confusing people with a patchwork of local ordinances.

“A law like this makes it consistent throughout the state,” said Tim McCabe, president of the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance. “Consumers and tourists shouldn’t have to wonder from city to city if they are going to have to pay for plastic bags or if they have to bring in reusable bags.”

Flagstaff and Tempe dropped their plans for plastic bag bans when the law was passed. Bisbee repealed its ordinance in 2017 after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said the ban violated state law and he threatened to withhold state funding from the city.

Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy organization, said Arizona’s law means businesses and individuals will have to lead the effort to reduce single-use plastics in the state,

“By Kroger taking the lead and stating that it will phase out single-use plastic bags, we expect other large grocery chains and businesses will recognize the economic and public health benefits and follow suit,” Brown said.

Single-use plastics have come under increasing fire for their harm to wildlife and the environment.

The average American uses about 1,500 plastic bags a year, but only 1 percent are recycled, according to the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson. The rest end up in landfills or the ocean, where the bags break down into microplastics that contain toxins and can harm wildlife that may mistake the brightly colored plastic for food.

Plastic bags also use large amounts of oil in the manufacturing process, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and worsens air pollution.

“Nothing that we use for a few minutes should threaten our health for hundreds of years,” Brown said.

This story is part of Elemental: Covering Sustainability, a new multimedia collaboration between Cronkite NewsArizona PBSKJZZKPCCRocky Mountain PBS and PBS SoCal.


  1. Water is at a premium in Arizona, and wasting it to rinse out filthy reusables just exacerbates the problem. And save that phony ‘Greenhouse Gases’ argument for the delusional hippies, John Kerry and UN minions. I accumulate a fair amount of plastic bags. Those not used as wastebasket liners and for used kitty litter, get bundled up and recycled.

  2. used to be vote with your pocket book, now – it won’t matter, they don’t care, they’re in control, do as we say or do without. Eco-Drones

  3. A few articles on safety of using reusable bags. Whether the study is correct or the liberals denying the results, I’d be washing out my reusable bags! Rather be safe than sorry. And grocery stores should still be allowed to package meat or any other item that might leak in plastic bags. But the loony tunes in the California Legislature haven’t figured that out.

  4. My whole family doesn’t use 1,500 plastic bags in 5 years…. more moronic “facts.” Why don’t all the know-it-alls go after countries in Asia for the harm they do to the air and the oceans? That island of plastic the size of Texas in the Pacific didn’t come from the U.S. I also don’t use 10 straws a year… in case the Center for Biological Diversity wants to know.

    • Coy, They do not want to know because it would invalidate their campaign of confusion and fraud of the American public. Besides, it has just become much easier to blame Americans for everything and see if they will try to pay their way out of it.

      “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

      Melt the straws down and make roofs for huts. Or shoes for the shoe less.

  5. I have many uses for the plastic bags;
    I use them when I clean the science experiments from my two refrigerators, sometimes left overs don’t get eaten the next day, sometimes I don’t use the whole can of tomato sauce so the rest goes into the fridge in case I have a use for the rest of the can later in the week.
    I use them for waste basket liners in the bathrooms, my sewing room, my home office.
    I use them for scraps of vegetable peelings so they don’t ferment and stink up my kitchen then out to the big can outside.
    I use them for poop clean up in my back yard, then into the big can out front.
    I use then for containers of side dishes I am taking for family get together s and carrying the plastic containers back home, ditto at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners when everyone wants some dinner to take back home with them for the next night of T.G. leftovers.
    So I best start saving some of my bags I do throw away for when they eliminate them completely. Ever try putting soggy left overs in re usable bags or paper bags? ugh!
    Oh,and the paper bags from Sprouts I use in my recycling bin.

  6. the bagging is soon gone, as are the clerks who check you out, it will all be self-service and beyond, as they start to read your card without in coming from your wallet, as they implant you with a chip that directs your bank account linked to the store for payment, as they control who can buy, what you can buy, if you can buy… it’s being built right now in front of our eyes – the people enjoy the convenience – oh how nice… won’t be long. Fifth generation electronics are now here – your car, bank, pay from your employer, TAXES, Medicine, there’s no end to the list of control to be employed upon your life – becoming drones – becoming possessed by the powers of the guy behind the screen to whom you will owe allegiance or get nothing. Mark of the Beast.. coming to our society very soon. Starting with a plastic bag – how ironic

    • I’m glad I’m on my way OUT. I see the day when y’all will be wearing a barcode on your wrist and implanted with a chip…. the new Nazi era. Hope you like it; it’s what you will vote for under the deceitful disguise of being “for your good.” Just think: it’ll cut crime, identity theft. We’ll be able to find you if you get lost…and save you…. Right. You’ll be a virtual prisoner of your government. Howdy 1984!

  7. Most people we know reuse those plastic bags. For us we use them all the time when we go hunting or fishing we use them to put trash in we pick up everyone else leaves.

    • I donate mine to the food pantry at my church. They use them to provide a carry for the food that they give the needy and homeless. I guess the needy and homeless are going to have to carry the individual food items or spend money that they do not have for reusable bags.

  8. I guess stopping plastic bags in grocery stores is a start, but jeez, it’s the tip of the iceberg. Garbage bags, loads of plastic bottles, plastic and styrofoam plates. The list is endless.

  9. What will they wrap the meat with? The wacky looney left, with ideas that bring unintended consequences.

    • Not too long ago, up to about 1975, meat was hand-cut by butchers and wrapped in butcher paper. That’s when personal service between supplier and customer was the norm. We would do well to return to those days instead of ordering food online which will eventually close down all stores.

  10. Cause and effect, clean single use disposable bags offer far greater food safety benefits over filthy reusable bags that waste water if they ever get cleaned and will epidemicly enhance rates of exposure to all sort of harmful microbes if they don’t get washed after each use.
    Let’s hope that the new line of re-usable antibacterial bags at some stores that are treated with AP-360, an antimicrobial product that controls harmful and odor-causing bacteria (MRSA), mold, mildew, and fungus. It is produced from natural resources that are abundantly renewable. Chitin, the active substance, is derived from the shells of crabs and contains unique antimicrobial properties, hopefully they will be available locally by time we save the planet by killing more people from preventable food bourne illnesses.

    The Oracle

    • And if delivery services use “re-usable” those microbes will spread like the plague.

      Plastic has enriched human lives in many ways. But the radical environmentalists (Hate America Communists) will do anything to send the white man back to the cave. Big, big mistake for Kroger bowing to their propaganda, whines and extortion. I bet their head of marketing is a liberal.

    • How do those reusable bags get so dirty if the stuff put in them is in cans, bottles, etc? I can understand meat packages, maybe fruit and veggies, but those can be washed.

      • Every person that touchs anything in the store not only leaves germs, but skin cells, dirt, and even insects or parts of them on the items. That gets transfered to the inside of the bag, and will build up over time. Not counting what is in the air at the time.

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