The Factoria QFC (pictured here) was part of the phase out pilot last November that included five other locations in the area. Currently, the stores only have paper bags and offer reusable bags for purchase at the checkout aisles. Kailan Manandic / staff photo

The Factoria QFC (pictured here) was part of the phase out pilot last November that included five other locations in the area. Currently, the stores only have paper bags and offer reusable bags for purchase at the checkout aisles. Kailan Manandic / staff photo

QFC to stop offering plastic bags in all stores on April 1

The commitment comes early as its parent company, Kroger, pledged to end plastic bag use by 2025.

Kroger’s Quality Food Center (QFC), recently announced it will no longer offer single-use plastic bags in any stores starting April 1, six years ahead of Kroger’s 2025 commitment.

The Bellevue-based supermarket chain, with numerous locations throughout the Eastside, had previously committed to banning all plastic bags in its stores by the end of 2019, but decided to phase out the bags even earlier after a successful pilot in Eastside stores.

“We saw how it worked in the stores and what the customers’ response was,” QFC spokesperson, Zach Stratton said. “It was all positive. So we took a step back, re-evaluated and decided to move on this quick time frame with the rest of our remaining stores.”

In total, five Eastside locations served as a pilot for the phase-out. They were chosen due to their proximity to other locations that fall within a legislative bag ban.

“You know how environmentally friendly we are in the Pacific Northwest,” Stratton said. “We listen to our customers closely and they’re telling us this is something that they want and that we need to do. We’re taking that to heart.”

The phase out is part of Kroger’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste campaign that aims to help end hunger in the communities they serve and eliminate waste throughout the company. The mission will not only donate more food to those in need, but donate healthy foods and eventually move to primarily reusable bags.

QFC also will be donating funds to The Nature Conservatory throughout the month of April — for each 99-cent reusable bag purchased, the supermarket chain will donate $1, up to $10,000.

“We know that simply switching from single-use plastic to single-use paper bags is not the long-term solution,” said Suzy Monford, president of QFC. “That’s why we are partnering with The Nature Conservancy and inviting customers to use reusable bags and join us as we work to create zero waste neighborhoods.”

“You still have people who use them for walking their dogs or small trash bins in their home,” Stratton added. “So we want to provide other options for that and then still move in the environmentally friendly way we are now in getting rid of these plastics.”

According to Stratton, QFC goes through millions of plastic bags each year. Plastic bags can spend hundreds of years decomposing in landfills and often end up in streams, rivers, lakes and roadsides.

The change will only affect about half of QFC locations, the others are already in jurisdictions with a legislative plastic bag ban. QFC will be the first of Kroger’s chains to complete the transition to no plastic bags. Currently, each QFC also offers plastic bag recycling.