Since 2007, Publix Super Markets has led initiatives to reduce the use of paper and plastic grocery bags used at checkout. The Lakeland, Fla.-based company has emphasized the importance of sustainability by training front service clerks and cashiers to increase the number of items per bag, implementing bag reduction goals for each store, holding communication campaigns to encourage the use of reusable bags and donating reusable bags to nonprofits and partner organizations throughout the southeast. Such activities have helped reduce the use of paper and plastic grocery bags by more than one million per day. And, on May 10, the number of bags saved since mid 2007 surpassed the 2 billion milestone.
“At Publix, we are fortunate to have customers and associates who are committed to sustaining our environment,” said Maria Brous, Publix director of media and community relations. “That’s why we focus on the responsible use of environmental resources, and offering our customers and associates options when choosing paper, plastic or reusable bags.
The company has offered in-store recycling of paper and plastic bags since the mid-1970s and introduced its first 99-cent reusable bags in mid-2007. Since the introduction, more than 21 million reusable bags have been sold at Publix locations.
In 2011, the company’s overall recycling rate was 49 percent. That year, 221,900 tons of cardboard, 8,800 tons of plastic and 3,200 tons of mixed paper were recycled by the grocery chain, which helped save approximately 3.7 million trees, 1.5 billion gallons of water, and 740,000 cubic yards of landfill space. In addition, Publix Pharmacy was the first regional supermarket chain to introduce prescription vials made from both new and post consumer recycled PET plastic. Last year, Publix recycled more than 2.3 million vials returned to its pharmacies by customers.