Whole Foods Market Looks to 'Sack' Plastic Grocery Bags

AUSTIN, Texas -- In a first step that may soon spread companywide, Whole Foods Market said yesterday that it will no longer offer plastic grocery bags at the checkouts in its two stores in Austin, Texas, its headquarters town.

"Let's face it, plastic bags fill landfills, harm our water systems and wildlife, and litter our roadsides and communities," said Seth Stutzman, Whole Foods' Southwest regional v.p. "We are discontinuing the use of these bags in support of our Core Value of 'caring for our communities and our environment,' which includes adopting wise environmental practices. By partnering with our shoppers, we can together bring the plastic bag issue to the forefront in Austin to help protect the environment in our hometown and our planet at large."

Eliminating plastic grocery bags at its Austin checkout counters will be a test for the company, and serves as the first step to ban such bags companywide by early next year. Paper bags made exclusively for Whole Foods Market from 100 percent recycled content will continue to be an option for shoppers.

To further bolster the reusable bag program the company has had in place for years, Whole Foods is now selling "A Better Bag," a reusable bag with a colorful and whimsical design made from 80 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. It sells for 99 cents at checkout areas in all Whole Foods stores nationwide.

The company also announced its two Austin stores will increase the refund from five cents to 10 cents per bag to shoppers who bring their own bags to use at the checkouts.
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