Major grocery chain in Georgia dropping plastic bags

The nation’s largest grocery chain, with a big presence in metro Atlanta, is dumping plastic bags.

Kroger announced Thursday that it is phasing out use of single-use plastic bags throughout its company. It won’t be an overnight shift.

The supermarket owner said it expects the transition to reusable bags will be completed across its business by 2025.

As for stores in Georgia, “we don’t have a definite timeline” for when exactly the change will take place, said Felix Turner, a local Kroger spokesman.

Plastic bags at checkouts have been under fire for years around the nation, with some communities banning their use at retailers. In some areas shoppers must pay to get a plastic bag to hold their groceries.

There are also fresh efforts to ban plastic straws and utensils. Starbucks, facing such a ban in its hometown of Seattle, recently announced that, by 2020, straws it uses will be made from biodegradable materials.

Georgia legislators have previously attempted to block local governments in the state from banning plastic shopping bags at retail locations. But the legislation, which critics dubbed the "plastic bags everywhere bill," failed to pass in 2015.

Kroger said it has heard from customers unhappy with bags designed for a short life. It also said it will seek feedback on the transition from customers and community organizations.

“As part of our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste commitment, we are phasing out use-once, throw-it-away plastic bags and transitioning to reusable bags in our stores by 2025,” Tim Brown, president of Kroger’s Atlanta Division, said in a press release. “It’s a bold move that will better protect our planet for future generations.”

Kroger’s Atlanta Division includes more than 183 stores, covering Georgia, Eastern Alabama and South Carolina. About 125 of them are in metro Atlanta.

The transition away from the bags begins with the company’s Seattle-based QFC, which is slated to complete the move in 2019.