Publix Super Markets has officially saved more than 2 billion paper and plastic bags used at checkout since mid-2007. The Lakeland, FL-based grocer has highlighted sustainability by training front service clerks and cashiers to increase the number of items per bag, rolling out bag reduction goals for each store, introducing communication campaigns to encourage the use of reusable bags and donating reusable bags to nonprofits and partner organizations throughout its Southeast footprint.
These efforts have helped reduce the use of paper and plastic grocery bags by more than 1 million per day, according to Publix.
"At Publix, we are fortunate to have customers and associates who are committed to sustaining our environment," said Maria Brous, the company's director of media and community relations. "That's why we focus on the responsible use of environmental resources, and offering our customers and associates options when choosing paper, plastic or reusable bags."
The grocery chain has offered in-store recycling of paper and plastic bags since the mid-1970s, and brought out its first 99-cent reusable bags in mid-2007. Since that time, more than 21 million reusable bags have been sold at Publix stores.
In 2011, Publix's overall recycling rate was 49 percent. That year, 221,900 tons of cardboard, 8,800 tons of plastic and 3,200 tons of mixed paper were recycled by the grocer, which helped save about 3.7 million trees, 1.5 billion gallons of water and 740,000 cubic yards of landfill space. Further, Publix Pharmacy was the first regional supermarket chain to roll out prescription vials made from both new and post-consumer recycled PET plastic. Also last year, Publix recycled more than 2.3 million vials returned to its pharmacies by customers.
The company's sustainability programs and 2010 Corporate Sustainability Report can be viewed online.