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Boxed water, switching straws: How Giant Eagle will work toward eliminating single-use plastic

Boxed water, switching straws: How Giant Eagle will work toward eliminating single-use plastic
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Giant Eagle will stop using single-use plastic bags at its grocery stores in Cuyahoga County beginning Jan. 1, but it’s planning to do more than that to reduce plastic use.

The Pittsburgh-based grocery chain will consider new options for straws in fountain beverages at its Get Go gas stations. It will introduce boxed water next year to reduce use of plastic bottles. And it will explore other options for reducing wasteful plastic packaging for grocery items.

It’s all part of a greater plan to eliminate single-use plastic at Giant Eagle by 2025. Officials rolled out the details at an event in Westlake Wednesday morning.

Giant Eagle has 21 supermarkets and 16 Get Go locations in Cuyahoga County, where a ban on single-use plastic bags will begin in January, though Brooklyn, Cleveland, Independence and North Olmsted are opting out for now.

“Our aim is to provide options and education to consumers on how they can make a difference in reducing plastics in their everyday lives,” Giant Eagle regional director Brian Ferrier said.

Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Sunny Simon, who spearheaded numerous iterations of the bag ban, shared her gratitude for retailers like Giant Eagle who are joining the effort to reduce plastics.

“We’re so excited to have this partner, a large grocer and retail chain here, and I know this is the beginning and we’re going to see success with Giant Eagle as a partner to educate and really make a difference to our lake and to our future generation,” Simon said.

Instead of cutting a plastic ribbon, she and Ferrier signed a pledge on the supermarket’s wall — a more eco-friendly option.

Here are some of the answers to some of the questions you might have about the new initiative.

Q: Is this just in Cuyahoga County?

A: No. The drive to remove single-use plastics is chain-wide. Giant Eagle has locations in five states.

Cuyahoga County is one of the three initial sites for the chain’s removal of plastic bags at check-outs. The other two are in Pittsburgh and Bexley, outside of Columbus.

Q: How is Giant Eagle incentivizing reusable bags?

A: The chain is offering a “perk” per reusable bag. Through its rewards program, shoppers can save these perks to get discounts on food and gas. This new incentive begins on Wednesday, before single-use bags are removed from stores.

Q: But what if I forget my bags?

A: You can buy them for 99 cents. Or, you can get paper bags for 10 cents each. If a customer is on government food purchase assistance, like food stamps or SNAP, they are exempt from the fee.

Stores will put reminders in store windows and other areas to remind customers to bring reusable bags into the store.

Q: What else will Giant Eagle be changing?

A: More information will come out as Giant Eagle’s leaders explore different partnerships that will help reduce single-use plastic in stores. The first two changes after the plastic bags will be the boxed water this spring and deciding on a straw alternative.

The chain is also working with suppliers to shift single-serving fresh food containers from plastic to recyclable paper containers.

Q: What about curbside pickup?

A: For customers who order their groceries online and have them brought to their car through curbside pickup, the store will offer the option to have all of their groceries put into paper bags for a flat $1 fee.

For more on plastic bags:

What is the Cuyahoga County Council trying to accomplish by prohibiting plastic bags? This Week in the CLE

Cleveland looks to opt out of bag ban

Pinecrest holiday shoppers largely applaud plastic bag ban

Ohio House passes law to ban local plastic bag bans

Regional director for Giant Eagle, Brian Ferrier, speaks at an announcement in Westlake.



By:  Emily Bamforth,




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