Tips for Retail Businesses

Promote Use of Reusable Totes

Plastic bags are convenient, but also pose a threat to our marine life if not disposed or recycled properly: Because of its shape and lightweight, plastic bags easily get picked up by the wind or carried away in the water down the drain and into our creeks, lakes and bays. While in their original form, seabirds or mammals can entangle themselves in plastic bags, when broken down into smaller pieces, diverse species (seabirds, turtles, fish…) misperceive them as food causing a range of problems. When degraded into microplastic particles, these become part of our food chain by ingestion of fish, mussels, oysters and many other marine life.


Plastic Production is Rising

For the last 20 years, worldwide production of plastic has been increasing at an average rate of 5% per year. In 2011, 32 millions tons of plastic were produced in the US alone, a large part of that is used in packaging. (Plastics Europe, 2013, ACC, 2013, EPA, 2013 via Algalita)

graph by Plastic Europe

Plastic Bag: Top 10 of Litter

Plastic Bags are consistently in the top 10 items found during coastal cleanup days around the world: 185,131 plastic bags were recovered in the US alone in 2014 (Ocean Conservancy, 2015).

8% of Plastic Gets Recycled

Only a small percentage of plastic gets currently recycled in the US (8% in 2011, compared to 28% in Europe in 2013). The remaining 92% ends up in our landfills or in our waters (Algalita, 2015).

Political Movement Against Plastic Bags

Worldwide, measures to limit or inhibit the single use of lightweight shopping bags are being put in place. Fees and bans can have a positive effect but require consequent enforcement see a list of current bans and taxes on Wikipedia, 2016.

Things You Can Do

Sell Good Quality Totes

Have your logo printed on shopping totes and sell them inexpensively to customers . Offer them at the cash register, and train your employees to offer them to customers who do not have their own bags already.

Little Juno Medium Size Grocery Tote (4AllPromos)

Carry More than One Type of Tote

There are variety of shopping totes out there, provide your customers with a range of bags from cloth shopping totes to foldable totes to bins for their car.

Non-Woven Tote Bag (4 All Promos)

Use Fewer Bags

Train your staff to be efficient about their bag usage. Items like gallon jugs or big boxes, probably do not need their own bag.

Offer Plastic Bag Recycling

Offer a 5¢ refund for returned plastic bags or at least have a place where customers can return their used plastic bags.

Enclosed Top Recycle Bin (Amazon)

Switch to Biodegradable Bags

Biodegradable bags that are fully compostable do not leach harmful chemicals as they degrade. They also take months as opposed to years to degrade and can break down quickly in salt water, in the open air, and buried in the ground.

Shopping Bags from BioBag

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Recycling Bin Labels

BioBag is one of serveral plastic bag manufacturers that produce biodegradable bags.

The Guardian

Article from The Guardian about lessons from Rwanda's ban on plastic bags.

Recycle Bins