Bag ban shifted shopper behavior at Bainbridge grocery

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Bainbridge Island enacted a ban on plastic shopping bags 18 months ago.

The city ordinance eliminated plastic bags and imposed a five cent fee on paper bags (retailers keep the revenue). The hope was shoppers would transition to reusable bags, cutting down on waste. At Winslow’s Town & Country supermarket that appears to have happened.

The store saw a 53 percent increase in reusable bag use after the ban, according to statistics T&C shared with the Kitsap Sun and the city. Here’s a graphical look at the change over the past year:

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It should be noted the reusable bag figures represent transactions, not actual bags, since the bags can be used over and over.

T&C gave a nickel discount to shoppers who remembered their reusable bags, creating a 10 cent incentive for shopping with cloth bags. The plastic bag ban and the cash incentive appeared to not only promote reusable bags but also decrease paper bag use.

Tony D’Onofrio, sustainability director for Town & Country Markets, said the ban took some adjustment for customers and staff but was well received.

“Now it’s just business as usual,” he said. “No one seems to really notice. Customers are used to it.”

Other Kitsap cities were in no rush to follow Bainbridge’s lead on banning bags when we checked in with them in 2012. About a dozen Washington cities have adopted bag bans so far.

 

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