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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- The California grocery industry has joined forces with the city government to reduce, reuse, and recycle grocery store checkout bags.
The partnership, publicized yesterday by Mayor Gavin Newsom, calls for reducing the number of bags entering the waste stream by 10 million by the end of 2006 and increasing checkout bag recycling. The Letter of Agreement was signed by the mayor, San Francisco Department of Environment (DOE), Albertsons, Inc., Safeway Inc., and four charter grocery companies represented by California Grocers Association President Peter Larkin.
"We believe grocers that operate in San Francisco can make a significant impact to help customers reduce plastic and paper bag use," said CGA's Larkin.
The six grocery companies, representing eight different store banners and 60 percent of the 57 stores located in San Francisco, include Albertsons, Andronico's Markets, Bell Markets, Cal-Mart Supermarket, Cala Foods, Foods Co., Mollie Stone's Markets, and Safeway Inc. Both the mayor and grocery industry representatives believe many, if not all, of the remaining grocery companies in San Francisco will sign the agreement.
Participating stores can use different strategies to reach the bag reduction goals including, but not limited to: bagger retraining, selling reusable bags, minimizing double bagging, and promoting in-store recycling. Several of the participating companies already provide bag recycling bins in their stores, while others sell reusable bags.
"Each grocer is tailoring programs to best fit their customers and the unique shopping experiences at their stores," Larkin said. "As grocers provide more opportunities for bag recycling it's in the hands of consumers to take advantage of these opportunities."
It will be the responsibility of the DOE to review these overall bag reduction efforts and apprise the mayor by Dec. 31, 2006.
In addition, participating stores and the DOE will initiate a broad public education campaign to encourage local residents to manage bag usage. The city will contribute personnel, financial and other resources to the campaign. Local supermarkets will contribute via their bag suppliers shall commit $100,000 in private funds or in-kind contributions to underwrite DOE's participation.
The agreement also calls for the city to attempt to establish curbside recycling of plastic bags by the end of 2006. If established, the DOE will set percentage-based targets for the increased recycling of plastic checkout bags through curbside programs.