For decades, the grocery industry has offered plastic bags to customers at checkout. As the use of plastic moves to the forefront of today’s environmental concerns, lawmakers of Cuyahoga County have attempted to reduce and eliminate the use of plastic bags with legislation with the recent Cuyahoga County Plastic Bag Ban. As this new law is put into place, Jeff Heinen believes that there are better solutions aimed at reducing plastic bag use.
Interested in learning more about Heinen’s view of the plastic bag issue? Jeff Heinen answers some of your questions below.
1. What is Heinen’s view on the use of plastic bags?
We recognize that plastic is an environmental concern; however, a plastic bag ban is not a very effective solution. Most experts believe that paper bags have an equal or greater negative impact on the environment, so making a switch from one type of bag to another does not accomplish the overall goal of reducing the environmental impact, especially since plastic bags account for less than 1% of all plastic waste.
The problem is not choosing plastic vs. paper, but rather using reusable bags more frequently. Our solution should be aimed at this goal seeing as estimates suggest that 50% of all plastic grocery bags are used multiple times, a fact that contradicts the term “single-use plastic bag.”
A plastic bag ban is concerning to us as a business because paper bags cost 5 to 6 times more than plastic bags, which results in a 2 to 3 million dollar increase in our overall costs- an expense that many of our competitors in the online grocery retail and restaurant industry will not incur.
2. How does Heinen’s make an effort to reduce waste and recycle?
We make a continuous effort to control our environmental footprint. Each year we recycle over 8 million pounds of cardboard, 50,000 pounds of plastic film and 100,000 pounds of plastic bags, which is about 20% of what we distribute. Last year alone, we composted over 40 tons of waste.
3. When will the Cuyahoga County Plastic Bag Ban go into affect?
January 1, 2020.
4. What is a better solution to the plastic bag ban?
We supported the 2017 legislation that proposed a 10 cent fee on both plastic and paper bags. This solution makes the most sense to us as it gives shoppers a choice on whether or not to use a reusable bag rather than make the decision for them.