Grocery stores increasingly encouraging people to use reusable bags via such measures as charging shoppers per plastic bag, donating to local charities every time customer does not use disposable plastic bag, posting signs

LOS ANGELES , May 17, 2012 () – Grocery stores are increasingly encouraging people to use reusable bags via such measures as charging shoppers per plastic bag, donating to a local charity every time that a customer does not use a disposable plastic bag and posting signs that promote the use of reusable bags, Gatehouse News Service reported May 16.

Some communities including San Francisco and Westport, Connecticut have either banned plastic bags or require customers to pay a certain amount of money per bag.

The Better Bag Project, which promotes the use of reusable shopping bags in Springfield, Illinois, encourages grocery stores to offer reusable bag promotions such as discounts, freebies and punch cards, and to train employees to ask customers if they brought their own bags.

More than 90% of customers at large retail stores in Springfield use either paper or plastic shopping bags, with 95% selecting plastic bags. Less than 10% used reusable bags, according to a study by the Green Business Network with aid from the local government’s recycling staff.

Plastic bags do not break down in landfills, and their production releases toxic elements into the environment. In order to make a year’s supply of plastic bags, which amounts to 100 billion bags, 12 barrels of oil must be expended in the production process, National Cooperative Grocers Association reported.

Plastic bags also pose a threat to marine animals, who sometimes eat the bags or are strangled by them.

Paper bags, often heralded as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic bags, actually have a higher carbon footprint than their plastic counterparts, according to Joan Barenfanger of Springfield’s Green Business Network, who also oversees the group’s Better Bag Project.

In comparison to plastic bags, the manufacturing process for paper bags produces 50 times more water pollutants and 70% more air pollutants. Recycling one pound of paper also takes nearly two times more energy than recycling one pound of plastic, Green Business Network noted.

The advantage of paper bags is that they, unlike their plastic counterparts, do not pose a threat to wildlife.

The primary source of this article is Gatehouse News Service, Fairport, New York, on May 16, 2012.

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