Big Y Foods Inc., based in Springfield, Massachusetts, will eliminate single-use plastic bags at checkouts from its supermarkets and specialty stores as well as its Big Y Express Gas and Convenience stores in 2020.
The company has been complying with single-use plastic bag bans in six of the local communities in Massachusetts (Adams, Amherst, Great Barrington, Lee, Northampton and South Hadley) since 2014.
“Customers in those communities are delighted with the ban, are supportive of environmentally responsible business practices and have been strong proponents of using reusable bags as an alternative to plastic and paper,” says Big Y.
The company’s experience within these six markets prompted officials to evaluate the possibility of a chainwide ban.
“Single-use plastic bags create an inordinate amount of waste. According to the EPA, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the U.S. each year. If not disposed of properly, this plastic can end up in waterways and forests where it can harm fish, marine animals, birds and other wildlife,” Big Y says, noting that it recognizes its responsibility to cut down on unnecessary plastic waste that contributes to litter, harms the environment and can endanger wildlife.
Currently, Big Y uses 100 million plastic bags and 3.5 million paper bags at checkouts each year. The company says it also recognizes that paper is not the answer to this waste problem as the paper production process is harmful to the environment causing increased greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation.
A sustainable option for customers is the use of reusable bags that should be washed regularly with soap and water or wiped clean with a disinfectant wipe. Big Y’s goal is to shift completely to reusable bags in 2020.
In order to ease the transition, Big Y will be offering special discounted pricing and promotions on reusable bags throughout 2019.
According to Richard D. Bossie, Big Y’s VP of store operations, “single-use plastic bags can no longer be viewed as a long-term solution for our stores. Our customers and the communities we serve have made it quite clear that they prefer more environmentally friendly alternatives. We look forward to implementing this new program in all of our retail locations. ”
Currently, Big Y collects single-use plastic bags from customers at each store and sends them to recycling plants for use in decking.
Other sustainability efforts include almost daily donations—including meat, produce and bakery items—to the five food banks within Big Y’s marketing area. Big Y locations also participate in paper and cardboard recycling programs and composting. In addition, they have championed other energy saving initiatives such as the use of solar arrays, LED lighting and even electric car charging stations to help protect the environment and conserve natural resources.
Big Y Foods Inc. is an independently owned supermarket chain in New England. It operates 81 locations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut including 70 supermarkets, 39 pharmacies, Fresh Acres Market, Table & Vine Fine Wines and Liquors and nine Big Y Express gas and convenience locations with more than 11,000 employees.