CA retailers cope with bag restrictions – California Plastic Bag Ban

Calif。

retailerscopewithbagrestrictions

Source:SupermarketNews

ByElliotZwiebach

PostedFebruary27,2014

AstheCalifornialegislaturepreparestoconsideranewproposaltobansingle-useplasticbagsthroughoutCalifornia,retailersinLosAngelesarealreadydealingwithimplementingtheban。

ThebaninL。

A。

tookeffectJan。

1,andretailersthereareadjusting,thoughsomeexpresseddissatisfactionwiththelocalordinance。

Somewerereluctanttodiscusstheissueforfearthatanythingtheysaidmighthavesomeunforeseennegativeimpactonpassageofastatewideordinance。

Underthatproposal,whichwillbeformallyintroducedintheCalifornialegislaturelaterthisyear,notonlywouldsingle-useplasticbagsbebannedthroughoutCalifornia,butloansandgrantswouldalsobeavailabletomanufacturerswhoconverttheirbusinessestomakingreusablebagswhileretainingworkersandretrainingthemduringthephase-outofsingle-useplasticbags。

Morethan90municipalitiesinCaliforniahavepassedsomeformofanti-plasticslegislation—includingSanFrancisco,SanJoseandnowLosAngeles—threeofthestate’slargestcities—withatlast40moreconsideringsimilarmeasures,aspokesmanfortheCaliforniaGrocersAssociationtoldSN。

Hesaidheexpectsthelatestproposalforastatewideplasticsbantopass“becausetwoofthelegislatorsthatopposedasimilarbilllastyearareonboardthistime。



JackBrown,chairmanandCEOofStaterBros。

Markets,SanBernardino,expresseddissatisfactionwiththecurrentsituation。

“Ifplasticbagsaregoingtobebanned,thenthereshouldbeastatelawratherthanlawsbyindividualcitieswithdifferentlanguageanddifferentrequirements,”hetoldSN。

“Buttherealissueformeis,whydoesthelawonlydealwithplasticbagsatgrocerystores?

Iseemuchmoretrashfromfast-foodrestaurantsthanIeverseewithgrocerybags。

Andthebagsatbig-boxstores,especiallytheonesforgeneralmerchandise,aretentimesthesizeofgrocerybags。

“Andbanningplasticbagsonlyatgrocerystoresendsupasataxonfoodbecausethecustomerhastopaysomethingforthereusablebagsorthepaperbagsabovetheshelfpriceofthegroceries。



StaterdoesnothaveanystoresinthecityofLosAngeles,thoughitdoeshavefiveunitsinsmallercitiesthathavepassedanti-plasticordinances,Brownsaid。

Shoppersatthosestoreswereinitiallyveryupsetwhenthelawstookeffect,herecalled,“andtheyfeltitwasunfair,butourpeopleexplainedthatwehadnochoiceandwehadtocomplywiththelaw。

Ourpeoplehelpedmakeitacceptabletocustomers。



Staterofferscustomersachoiceofreusablewovenbagsfor99centseachorpaperbagsfor10cents,Brownsaid,notingthatthepaperbagsare100%recyclable。

Hesaidhewasn’tsurewhatpercentageofcustomersuseoneortheother,”thoughcustomersunderstandmoreclearlywhatthelawisandthey’vebeenbringingintheirownbagsmoreoften。



CustomerreactionatGelsons

LikeStater,Gelson’sMarkets,Encino,alreadyhadexperiencedealingwithlocalordinancesthatbannedplasticbagsinfourcitiesinwhichitoperates,whichprepareditfortheL。

A。

ban,whichaffectednineadditionalstores。

“Butourhopeistherewillbemoreuniformlawsthatapplytoallstores,”YvonneManganaro,directorofmarketingforthe17-storechain,toldSN。

InitiallyGelson’sviewedthebanas“arealchallenge,”shesaid。

However,thetransitionhasbeeneasierthanthechainanticipated,shenoted。

Theearlierbansonplasticbagswereinsmallercommunities“whereyoucouldstillgetplasticbagsbygoingtothenexttownover。

ButwhenthebantookeffectinLosAngeles,everyoneunderstoodbetterwhatwashappening—thatthisisanewwayofshopping—sothey’vebeenmoreresponsiveinhowtheyshop。

“Weretrainedallourfront-endassociatesinDecemberabouthowtopackreusablebags,andbecausewewerepreviouslyusinghipposacksthatheldupto35pounds,whichissimilartowhatthereusablebagscanhold,wehaven’tbeenasaffectedassomeotheroperatorsmightbe。



Customerreactionshaverunbothways,Manganarosaid。

“Somecustomerswhoaremorepoliticallyactiveandconnectedunderstandthechange,whileothershavebeenmorevocalinsayingthebanisnotrightandGelson’sneedstodosomethingaboutit。



Besidesofferingpaperbagsfor10centseachandreusablewovenbagsfor$1。

25,Gelson’salsooffersareusableplasticbagthatcanbeusedupto125timesormore,whichitsellsfor34centseachorthreefor$1。

“Wewereinitiallyreluctantbecauseofconcernsthatofferingalow-costreusablebagmadeofanalternativeplasticmightnotsettherightimageandmightmakeconsumerswonderwhyweresellingplasticbags,”Manganaroexplained。

“Ultimatelywedidofferthem,andinretrospect,wemadetherightdecisionbecausethosebagsarequitestrong,andwhencustomerscomein,manygobyadisplaynearthefront-end,pickupacoupleofbagsanddotheirshopping,andtheyarenotparticularlyconcernedifthebagsarereusable。



Shesaidthechainhasbeensurprisedbytheconsumerdemandforreusableplasticbags。

“Weweresellingabout500aweeklastyear,andwehadorderedlargequantitiesinadvanceoftheL。

A。

ban。

Butwesoldanaverageof1,000aweekforthetwoweeksbeforetheban,andinthefirstmonthafterthebantookeffect,wehadsoldanother10,000。



TwoyearsafterabanonplasticbagsaffectedaGelson’sinCalabasas(northofLosAngeles),Manganarosaid50%ofcustomerstherebringreusablebags,ofwhichaboutone-thirdbringthereusableplasticbags。

“IftherewasanyinitiallossofcustomercountinCalabasas,itwasonlyshort-term,andwebelievemostcustomershavealreadyadjustedtothechange,”shenoted。

CustomerreactionsattheDanaPointstore,inasuburbancommunityinOrangeCounty,southofLosAngeles,weresimilartothoseinCalabasas,shenoted。

InWestHollywood,whichimposedabanlastyear,theGelson’sstoreservesamoreurbanclientelewherecustomerstendtomakesmallerpurchases,shesaid—andthelevelofenvironmentalawarenesstendstobehigher—sotheuseofreusablebagsisat60%becausemanycustomerswerealreadybringingintheirownbags,shesaid。

OnethingGelson’shaslearned,Manganarosaid,istheimportanceofconvenience。

“Whencustomersforgettobringtheirownbags,weneedtoofferavarietyofoptions。

Havingsomethinglessexpensiveandconvenientisimportant,andthat’sbecomepartofourcommunicationwithcustomers。

“Acustomerwhobalksatpaying$1。

50forabagwon’tbalkat34cents;andsomepeoplewhopreferpaperdon’tviewthe10-centchargeasadeterrent。

“Itwillbeinterestingtoseehowthingsdevelopandifstoreswilleventuallysellpaperbagsontheshelvesorsellsingle-useplasticbagsinaboxforuseastrash-canlinersortopickupaftertheiranimals。



Recycledplasticbags

TherecycledplasticbagssomechainsinLosAngelesareusingareavailablefromtwocompanies—CommandPackaging,Vernon,Calif。

andRoplastIndustries,Oroville,Calif。

—whobasedthemanufacturingprocessonaEuropeanmodelthatusesagriculturalplastictomanufactureotherrecyclableproductslikegrocerybags。

AccordingtoamessageontheRoplastbags,“Thisreusablebagoncegrewyourfood—nowit’sbeingusedtocarryithome。

Thisclosed-loopcircledoesnothavetostophere。

Whenyouhavefinallywornthisreusablebagout,returnittoaparticipatingstoretoberecycledagain。

Thesearevaluablematerials—wewouldlovetousethemagain。



Roplastdevelopedthebagsin2007whenSanFranciscoimposedaplastic-bagban。

AccordingtoRobertBateman,Roplastpresident,“ReusableplasticgrocerybagsarewellestablishedinEurope,andtheuseofthesebagsisconsideredtobethesinglemosteffectivestepinminimizingtheenvironmentalimpactofgrocerycheckoutbags。

“Ideallyshopperswillbringthebagsbacktothegrocerystoreseveraltimesandthenplacethemwithothercompostableitemsdestinedformunicipalcompostingfacilities。



PeteGrande,CEOofCommandPackaging,saidhiscompanyisinvestingupto$25milliontosupplytheindustrywith“smarterbags,”whicharemadefromrecycledagriculturalplasticthatcarriesalowercarbonfootprintthanreusableorpaperbags。

“It’stimetoaddressthesingle-usegrocerybagissuewithoutinitiatingareturntolessenvironmentallyfriendlyoptionslikepaperbags,”Grandesaid。

“Whenwerecyclewithapurpose,wearedivertingplasticfromlandfills,whichisrecycledandusedtomanufactureothernecessaryproducts,creatingaclosedloop。



Grandeofferedseveralsuggestionstohelpgrocersdealwithplasticbagbans,notingthatbagbansputretailers“inthecross-hairsoffrustration。



Hesuggestedretailershaveastrategytoencouragereuseandrecycling。

“Showingyourunderstandingandsupportfortheordinancewillhelpputyourcustomersatease。



Healsosuggestedretailersavoidputtingmeatorliquidsinreusablewovenorsewnbags“becausetheporesinthesebagsholdbacteriaeasily。