LYNDHURST, Ohio — With the new year, shoppers at most Giant Eagle locations in Cuyahoga County will no longer have their groceries packed in single-use plastic bags. The regional grocery chain’s policy change, which is part of a company-wide initiative, is now in effect ahead of the county’s enforcement of its own plastic bag ban beginning in July.
Giant Eagle’s highly-advertised and self-imposed plastic bag ban officially went into effect Jan. 1 at a majority of the company’s locations in the county. In 2019, the Cuyahoga County Council approved a county-wide ban on single-use plastic bags but later announced that enforcement and fines wouldn’t begin until July 2020.
On New Year’s Day, shoppers streamed into Giant Eagle’s location in Lyndhurst and were among the first shoppers to decide whether to purchase a reusable bag for $0.99 or have their groceries packed in a paper bag, which could be purchased for $0.10 a piece. Some shoppers, including Amy Dubs, came prepared.
“I haven’t been using [plastic bags] anyways. As you can see, I have my own bags here,” Dubs said. “Plastic does not deteriorate and I don’t want to see it in our ocean and in our environment. I think the [policy change] is overdue.”
Although Giant Eagle has had large posters and other signage alerting shoppers to the switch, the shift away from plastic bags caught some shoppers by surprise. Some shoppers said there was some initial confusion during checkout as they decided between purchasing a reusable or paper bag.
“I like the (plastic) bags. They are convenient and you can use them for a lot of different things when you get home. I use them for trash and stuff like that,” said shopper Wanza East. “I really hate to see them go. I think if [Giant Eagle] is going to get rid of them, they can at least give you a paper bag for free.”
While the policy change will undoubtedly force some shoppers to make their own personal adjustments, many shoppers that spoke with News 5 applauded the grocery chain’s efforts.
“I think it’s great. It’s great for the environment,” said shopper Brad Grieco. “The only thing I’m going to miss is that I have a dog so I would take the plastic bag to help pick up after it but I can go without that. We’ll figure something else out because for the environment this is much better.”
In mid-December, Giant Eagle announced its commitment to eliminating single-use plastic items from its operations by 2025. The grocer, which has more than 470 locations across four states, joined Cincinnati-based Kroger’s decision in 2018 to eliminate plastic shopping bags.
However, not every Giant Eagle location in Cuyahoga County has eliminated plastic bags. Stores in Brooklyn, Independence, Cleveland and North Olmsted will still offer plastic bags for the next few months because those communities opted out of the county-wide plastic bag ban. A full list of Giant Eagle locations that have eliminated plastic bags is available here.