Giant Eagle is placing single-use plastics in its crosshairs.
The regional supermarket retailer is launching a strategic sustainability platform focused on achieving environmental milestones related to plastics, waste, carbon emissions, sustainable products, and employee engagement. Giant Eagle is taking flight with the platform by setting a goal of being free of single-use plastics in its operations by 2025.
During this time, Giant Eagle will work to move away from single-use plastics in areas such as plastic bags, straws, single-serve fresh food containers, and bottled beverages. The company is starting the initiative by committing to eliminate single-use plastic bags from all stores, and is launching separate plastic bag pilot programs in January 2020 in three markets: Pittsburgh, Cuyahoga County in Ohio, and Bexley, Ohio (a suburb of Columbus).
Giant Eagle is launching the Pittsburgh pilot program at the Waterworks Market District in partnership with Allegheny County, the city of Pittsburgh, and Sustainable Pittsburgh. For six months, beginning Wed., Jan. 15, 2020, the store will remove single-use plastic bags at its registers.
Instead, the store will encourage the use of reusable bags, with a limited time “one perk per reusable bag used” promotion. This perk will be available for a limited time at all Giant Eagle supermarkets chainwide in December. All Giant Eagle stores will also make reusable bags available for purchase at $0.99 each.
To further strengthen the usage of reusable bags, the Waterworks Market District will charge a 10-cent fee per paper bag used. Customers paying with forms of government funded food purchase assistance (such as SNAP and WIC) will be exempt from the paper bag fee.
"When my great-grandfather and the four other founders started Giant Eagle nearly 90 years ago, they wanted to improve life for people in their communities,” said Giant Eagle CEO and president Laura Shapira Karet. “Protecting our planet for future generations is a critical way we uphold this commitment today.”
Giant Eagle is also committing to phasing out the use of the blue-colored single-use plastic bags in all Pittsburgh stores in the coming months. Many Pittsburgh residents use the blue bags to gather recyclables at the curb. However, the blue bags create mechanical issues for the machinery that sorts the recycled materials. Giant Eagle’s phasing out of its single-use blue plastic bags coincides with the city’s rollout of free recycling bins to all households it services.
The Waterworks Market District pilot program is being implemented with the endorsement of community organizations including Allegheny CleanWays. Additionally, Giant Eagle has engaged the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University to share data and conduct research to understand the impact of the pilot program on the larger community and environment.
Giant Eagle operates more than 470 stores throughout western Pennsylvania, north central Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland, and Indiana.