Our 2020 Bag Ordinance

“How Many Reusables Can We Credit You?”

Back in the day, “Paper or plastic?” was actually a thing we used to ask you at checkout. That’s how it was everywhere, but thankfully it’s not the case anymore. However, that change which seems so sensical today, didn’t catch on throughout the entire shopping process.

We still need to drastically cut the amount of waste in the world. So, we’re taking aim at our store’s largest source of plastic waste; plastic bulk and produce bags. This time we decided we’re not going to wait for legislation and public standards to come around. They eventually will, but we have to start now. 

Like the previous plastic checkout bag ban, we’re taking a similar approach. The big thing you should know about is we will be implementing a .10 charge on January, 2nd  March 2020 for all new pre-checkout bags used from our store. Granted, this isn’t just about reducing plastic waste; it’s also a shift into adopting reusables.

In conjunction with the charge, we also offer a .05 credit for every reusable you do use to help encourage utilizing reusables. 

We’re trying to get ahead of needed change, and in doing something new there will be pains and questions.

We hope to address as many questions and concerns we have thought of, or have been mentioned in our conversations with customers. And please reach out if there is something we may have missed.

Some FAQs

When does the pre check out bag charge take effect?

March  2020.

Which bags will have the new fee?

All pre-checkout bags will be subject to the new fee. This includes all plastic, BioBag, and small paper bags.

Why is there a charge for the paper and BioBags? They’re not plastic.

True, but their lifecycle is very limited and they often end up in the wrong place in the waste stream. Even the eco-friendlier options still take a lot of resources to make, distribute, and dispose of. The overall goal is to encourage and reward the most sustainable solution which is adopting sustainably produced, long-lasting reusables.

Is this a tax?

No, this is not a mandatory tax. You can avoid the fee completely by opting out of using a bag, or by bringing your own bags and containers from home.

Additionally, SNAP (EBT) recipients will not be required to cover the charge.

Where do the proceeds from the additional fee go? Is the store profiting from the charge?
No, the store will not be making a profit off the additional charge. Currently the we pay between .10 and .20 cents each time we provide our customers with a new disposable pre-check out bag. Money collected from the fee will go directly towards supplying bags, and to providing information and resources about reusable alternatives.

This seems like an unfair charge to force the customer to cover. Why are you doing this when Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Safeway etc. still offer their pre-check out bags for free?

Although we are the first grocery retailer on the Island to roll out a fee for pre check out bags, growing momentum in the area indicates others will catch up soon. The charge is intended to reflect the true cost of providing disposable bags day in and day out. Stores generally cover the extra cost of providing thousands of cheap, disposable bags each year, without taking responsibility for the wasted money and resources these bags create. The fee’s primary purpose is to encourage the use of reusable bags and containers to help safeguard the environment.

You’re offering a .05 cent credit everytime I bring in a ‘reusable’. What is a reusable?

We’ll consider a reusable as pretty much anything that isn’t a first-use, store-provided plastic, paper, or BioBag. You already have a lot of options in your home. Even the plastic produce bag you got for the .10 charge could be reusable. Use it twice more, and you’ve got your money back. By the third shopping trip, customers will be fully reimbursed for their disposable bag purchase and will receive credits on that bag each time they use it going forward.

What should I do to get ready for this change?

• Know that the change & the charge is happening.
• Start tracking your bag usage now to get an idea of what you’ll need. You may be surprised by how many, or how few, you currently use.
• Invest in some quality reusables if you are able to. We have expanded our line of bags and containers with some great options.
• Save some containers you currently have on hand that can be reused. Packaging that food was sold in is a good place to start. Keep them with the reusable shopping bags you already use.
• Embrace the challenge, but manage expectations. Going low waste has its struggles and inconveniences. You won’t be able to lose it all, and that’s okay.
• Embrace the wins. Even the little ones. For a lot of us, you may get a little hit of dopamine every time you knowingly avoid a disposable and cut waste. Small changes add up.

How will cashiers know whether I bought my bag from you, or whether I brought my bag from home? What if I’m charged for a new bag, even though I didn’t use one?

We will do our best to remember to ask how many bags you may be purchasing brand new, and how many you’re reusing from home. As with any new policy, we expect there to be a reasonable transition period while we are all getting used to the new changes. We’ll be happy to refund you if a charge accidentally slips by.

I “reuse” my plastic produce/bulk bags by lining my smalll trash can, picking up dog waste, and/or tossing out gross things. What should I do now?

You can repurpose plastic bags you already have laying around the house, like your plastic bread bag, newspaper bag, even an empty chip bag to do the same work. Try keeping an unlined trash can, or using newspaper instead; just make sure to throw wet compostable items in your curbside green bin to keep your trash can clean. And of course, plastic is pervasive, you won’t run out of options.