coronavirus pandemic

Which Stores Are Banning Reusable Bags?

NBC 7 Responds asked some of the major grocery stores around San Diego what their policies are

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Grocery shopping is very different than it was a month ago. There are lines of customers waiting to get in, people wearing masks, even plastic dividers between you and the cashier at some stores. Now, several stores are also asking that you leave your reusable bag in the car.

Each grocery chain has a different set of policies. Baron's Market, Trader Joe's and Target are providing new bags for free because they are not accepting or handling reusable bags.

"It's a policy that says we're all in this together," said SDSU Marketing Professor Miro Copic. "They don't want to penalize you for a decision you can't make."

Ralph's says while it is not allowing reusable bags, it is still charging customers the bag fee because it has not heard otherwise from the state of California.

"For your big shopping trip there are four to five bags," said Copic. "That's an extra 50 cents and every dollar counts, so consumers are going to remember that."

NBC 7 Responds reached out to many local grocery stores to see what their policies on reusable bags are. You can find their statements below.

Baron's Market
For the safety of our customers and employees, we are no longer allowing customers to bring their own reusable bags in to the store. We will be packing their groceries in a paper or plastic bag, free of charge. 

As part of our Zero Hunger/Zero Waste commitment to end hunger and eliminate waste in our communities by 2025, we continue to allow our customers to use reusable shopping bags, provided there is not a state or local ordinance that prohibits use. We encourage our customers to frequently clean and wipe down their reusable shopping bags to help us maintain a safe shopping environment.

We are not allowing customers to bring in their own reusable bags at this time.  When customers decide to use a paper bag, the charge is 10 cents per bag.  We are donating all paper bag fees we collect to Jewish Family Service to benefit their food pantry.  

Northgate Gonzalez Market is not currently allowing customers to bring in reusable bags. This is posted at the front of our stores. And, starting today no one is allowed without wearing a mask at all 41 stores. 

The safety of our associates, customers and communities is our top priority. As per the recent ordinance passed by San Diego County, Ralphs is following the guidance to not permit customers to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home. State law requires grocery stores to charge a fee for the use of multi-use plastic bags. We have not received further guidance from the State regarding those charges.

Customers may bring their own reusable bags while shopping at Sprouts, however, we request that they leave them in their shopping cart. Sprouts team members will place the items in carts.

Until further notice, Target stores will stop handling guest-supplied reusable bags out of an abundance of caution. Our team members are bagging items in a Target-supplied paper or plastic bag, and we’re waiving any local bag fees. If a guest brings in a reusable bag, they can choose to bag their items themselves.

Trader Joe's
We have suspended the use of all reusable bags at our stores. We informing customers that we will pack their groceries in our paper bags, free of charge (in places where there's a fee).

Did not provide a statement to NBC 7 Responds, but viewers have told us they are not accepting reusable bags and do not appear to be charging for new bags.

CalRecycle enforces the law on reusable bags. We reached out to them to ask about the charges and why some stores are waiving them, and others are not. Their statement read:
While CalRecycle does not have the authority to suspend the statewide plastic bag law or any of the fees included in the law, the department will continue to work alongside state and local partners to help find the best solution to protect the health of both consumers and grocery store workers.

NBC 7 Responds also reached out to Stater Brothers and Walmart. We did not hear back from either by the time this article was published.

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