Big Y to phase out single-use plastic bags by 2020

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The supermarket chain Big Y, which has a number of stores across Connecticut, will phase out single-use plastic bags in its stores by 2020, following trends across the country to keep plastics out of the trash. 

“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," said Richard D. Bossie, Big Y vice president of store operations, in a statement announcing the store’s plan. "We look forward to implementing this new program in all of our retail locations.

The store said it complies with town ordinances in six Massachusetts municipalities that ban plastic bags. The bans in these towns prompted officials with the Massachusetts-based grocer to reconsider providing single-use plastic bags across the 70 stores in the chain.

The chain has more than 30 stores across Connecticut, including ones in Groton, Mystic, Norwich, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook.

The company estimates it uses 100 million plastic bags at checkouts each year and said it recognizes the need to cut down to prevent litter and reduce harm to the environment and wildlife.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States consumes millions of tons of plastic bags and wrappings a year, and more than 380 billion plastic bags are circulated.

In Connecticut, Westport and Greenwich have banned single-use plastic bags in grocery stores in the past decade. There is momentum in other towns to ban them, as well. Locally, Groton, Waterford and Stonington are considering bans on single-use plastics, such as shopping bags and drinking straws.

A number of major cities across the country, including Boston and San Francisco, have banned plastic bags at grocery stores. Similar measures have taken aim at plastic straws that, along with bags, end up in waterways and threaten animals.

Volunteers with the Save the Sound’s Coastal Cleanup program counted 1,288 plastic bags among the 8,563 pounds of trash they picked up along Connecticut’s shoreline, coastal marshes and beaches in 2017.

Big Y said it offers a place at every store for customers to recycle old plastic bags. Through 2019, the store said it plans to offer discounts on reusable grocery bags.

The Kroger Co., which runs a number of supermarket chains, said last year that it, too, would stop providing single-use plastic bags in its stores starting in 2025.

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