This story comes from our partner, 90.5 WESA.
Giant Eagle blue plastic bags are common in Pittsburgh, often on the sidewalk on recycling day, used to collect dog poop or, sometimes, set aside on the street. Not for long: Giant Eagle told WESA that the company is moving away from these bags and other plastics, in a big move that will be announced Tuesday afternoon.
"We promise that by 2025, we will run out of single-use plastics in all our operations," Dan Donovan, senior communications director at Giant Eagle. "It is an ambitious goal, but we are very excited to address it."
On January 15, a pilot will begin at the Market District and GetGo locations in Aspinwall, as well as in stores in two Ohio locations: the blue bags will be removed from the cash stations, with paper bags available for 10 cents each a. The fee will not apply to those participating in food assistance programs. Reusable bags are strongly recommended.
The company also plans to eliminate disposable plastics from all its product lines, from bread sticks to hot dog packages. Hopefully other brands will do the same, Donovan said.
"Some of our national brand partners … are making great strides," Donovan said. "But today I can't talk about some of their goals and where they will be in a few years."
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Giant Eagle is not the only supermarket chain that works to eliminate single-use plastics. Aldi, which does not offer single-use plastic bags, He plans to make all food containers reusable, recyclable or compostable in the next five years. Wegmans, which operates along much of the east coast, has been experiencing without offering plastic bags before the New York state ban that will take effect in March.
Andy Benchek of Mt. Washington said it appreciates efforts to reduce single-use plastics. He and his family try to live in the most sustainable way possible: they are vegan, compost and even make their own toothpaste.
"We try to reuse everything," Benchek said. "But then, there are the plastic bags."
He said he and his wife try to bring their reusable bags every time they buy, but sometimes they forget and sometimes they end up with unwanted bags.
Judith Enck, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and founder of the Beyond Plastics environmental group, said these Giant Eagle changes cannot come soon enough, because we are essentially turning our oceans into landfills.
"It's so bad, conservative estimates are that nine million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year," said Enck.
Enck said the United States has never recycled more than 10 percent of the plastic that ends up in recycling bins. China, which historically took much of US plastic. UU. To recycle, he no longer wants it.
"So, the best we can do as consumers, if we care about public health and the environment, is to buy less plastic as long as it has that option," said Enck.
The skepticism of public acceptance
Justin Stockdale, managing director of the Pennsylvania Research Council, said he is skeptical about Giant Eagle's plan to eliminate single-use plastics. He said he applauds the change, but believes that the customer's response will be negative.
"I imagine that public perception of this is going to be very tough," Stockdale said. "[PRC] fears that in a pilot phase, resistance will exceed the intention and, at the end of the day, the pilot will demonstrate that removing the bags is not an option."
"We believe that in the coming weeks and months, we will find some really interesting facts [about the use of plastic]."
Donovan said there is no doubt that Giant Eagle will remove all single-use plastic from its stores over time: if the process is slower than expected, the company may lose the 2025 target. In the Pittsburgh region, everything The process away from single-use plastics will be done in partnership with Sustainable Pittsburgh, the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.
"We are going to share data where we can monitor them," Donovan said. "We believe that in the coming weeks and months, we will find some really interesting facts [about the use of plastic]."
Giant Eagle has plastic bag recycling containers outside most of its stores, Donovan said. What goes into those containers, combined with other recycling efforts, amounts to three million pounds of recycled plastic each year at Giant Eagle stores.
"We are really grateful that customers work with us to make that possible," Donovan said. "But … there are three million pounds of single-use plastic that come out of our stores."
Donovan said he believes customers will be open to this change: he said many people already bring their own reusable bags. Giant Eagle also plans to make major movements related to carbon emissions and waste throughout the chain. Details about these will come in the coming months and years.
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