Reusable Bag’s Slow Adoption Curve
Several grocers over the last few years have been providing a small
rebate, usually three to five cents, for each reusable bag shoppers bring in.
But some are finding it not much of an incentive.
In fact, a spokesperson for
Kroger told The Associated Press that it
has found no significant difference between reusable bag frequency in markets
with rebates and those without them. As such, Kroger has begun to phase out
the bag discounts at some of its stores. Safeway and Meijer have reportedly
begun to do the same.
Instead, Kroger is increasing education efforts. Parking
lot signs, for instance, ask, “Are your reusable bags still in the car?” In-store
signage explains that one reusable bag can replace hundreds of disposable bags.
Another states, “Less
For its part, Safeway is offering 10 percent off its
line of environmentally friendly home products to shoppers who use the Safeway “Bright
The changes illustrate the industry’s slow progress to date in getting
people into the habit of using reusable bags.
“I think in today’s world, ‘sustainability’ and that kind of
feel-good issue associated with living lighter doesn’t seem to have the same
impact or priority when compared to prices and all that kind of stuff,” Bill
Bishop, chairman, Willard Bishop Consulting, told The Toledo Blade.
the Food Marketing Institute, half of shoppers in a recent survey said they “try” to
bring reusable bags to stores, an increase of 10 percent over 2009. But half
also reported their use of the reusable bags as “never” or “less
Beyond eco-goodwill, retailers also stand to significantly
reduce supply expenses if all shoppers begin touting canvas bags. Kroger saved
more than 200 million plastic bags in 2009.
But retailers remain on the fence
when it comes to fully supporting local reusable bag proposals. Several states
are now considering bans on plastic bags or requiring fees on disposable bags
following similar actions taken by some local and county governments. If plastic
bags are banned, retailers would be forced to offer more expensive paper bags
for shoppers neglecting to bring their own reusable bags. Some stores are charging
up to 10 cents each for paper bag use. Not surprisingly, there’s been some
consumer backlash to the fees charged for disposable bag use.
- Some grocers abandon rebates for reusable bags – The Associated
- For some shoppers, ‘reusable’ not their bag – The Toledo Blade
- Poll: Americans Oppose Big-Government Regulation of Plastic Bags – Consumer
- Grocery stores sit on the fence during Maryland’s bag-tax debate – TBD
- Plastic shopping bag ban begins in Santa Monica – Los Angeles Times
Discussion Question: What do you think are the most effective ways for stores to encourage reusable bag use?