Publix Supermarkets this month surpassed a significant milestone in its sustainability efforts, in the form of more than 1 billion paper and plastic bags saved at checkout since mid-2007.
The grocer achieved this feat by training front service clerks and cashiers to place more items in each bag, rolling out bag reduction goals for every store, running communication campaigns to urge the use of reusable bags, and donating reusable bags to nonprofits and partner organizations throughout its store base in the Southeast. These actions have helped slash the use of paper and plastic grocery bags by over 1 million per day.
“At Publix, we are fortunate to have customers and associates who are committed to sustaining our environment,” noted Maria Brous, the company’s 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.”
Publix has offered in-store recycling of paper and plastic bags since the mid-1970s, and brought out its first 99-cent reusable bags in 2007. Since the bags’ debut, shoppers have purchased more than 13 million of them at the grocer’s locations.
Last year, Publix’s overall recycling rate was 45 percent. The grocery chain recycled 210,000 tons of cardboard, 7,000 tons of plastic and 2,200 tons of mixed paper in 2009, helping to save about 5.2 million trees, 16.8 million gallons of water, and 1.8 million cubic yards of landfill space.
Privately owned and operated by its 142,000 employees, Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix operates 1,023 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.