558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Taking the lead on going green
Prineville Ray’s Food Place has officially switched from plastic to paper at the grocery checkout
Brian McVicar checks out in the grocery line at Prineville Ray’s Food Place on Tuesday. He commented that he likes the change to paper bags.
January 17, 2013
As of Monday of this week, customers at Prineville Ray’s Food Place won’t be asked if they would like “plastic or paper.”
Instead, they will have the choice of free paper bags, or the option of purchasing a 99-cent reusable bag—which are both 100 percent recyclable and reusable. There will also be a 5-cent bag refund to customers who bring in their own bags for their groceries at checkout.
“I think it’s a good idea,” remarked customer Brian McVicar on Tuesday.
Store Manager for Prineville Ray’s Food Place Walt Blind commented that they have had almost all positive feedback on the change so far. He even displayed a thank you card on his desk from a local customer, who congratulated them on taking the lead on going green in the local retail stores.
“When you look at the statistics on plastic bags, it takes 1,000 years for a regular plastic bag (obtained) at the check stand to biodegrade in the landfill,” he said.
Except for one woman who indicated that it was easier for her to carry the plastic bags over her arm, Blind said most people are supportive of using paper instead of plastic. He emphasized that they would still have a supply of bags on-hand for special items such as meat and take-away deli items to prevent leaking. In addition, plastic bags will be offered in their produce and bulk sections until alternate solutions can be found.
“More than 90 percent of the people are very appreciative of the fact that we are going to use paper bags instead of plastic,” he added.
Other grocery retails in Prineville are also offering reusable grocery bags for sale in their stores, and some also offer incentives to customers who bring in their own bags. Ericksons Thriftway gives a 5 cent refund for each bag, similar to Ray’s. They still offer plastic and paper bags, however.
According to Wagner’s Price Slasher Grocery Manager Russ Johnson, customers also have the opportunity to purchase reusable bags, and have the opportunity to bring in their own to bag groceries.
“Actually, we have a lot of customers who bring in their own bags,” said Johnson. “A lot of it is, they don’t want to do recycling, so they bring in their own bag, (and use their own bag) and that way they don’t have a lot of garbage to deal with.”
He added that unless there is a law that requires them to do so, they will probably continue to offer a choice between paper and plastic.
“I think all stores are working towards it, and I know that Ray’s just made that switch,” commented Grocery Outlet owner Carl Shaver. “That is something that we have looked at and are still looking at, but until we can find a supplier that can supply an alternate quantity of bagging products that is comparable, we will probably stick with plastic.”
He said that they have offered the reusable bags for sale for approximately six years. Although they don’t offer a refund for customers who use their own bags, Shaver said that he thought it was a unique idea that Ray’s had, but Grocery Outlet is not duplicating that effort at this time.
Blind pointed out that the paper bags that Ray’s uses are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and are made of recyclable materials from wood fiber at International Paper in Beaverton, Ore. Ray’s is also using three different sizes of paper bags for the convenience of their customers.
“By making this change, we hope to make a positive impact on each local and regional community we serve,” explained Greg Sandeno, President and CEO of C and K Market, Inc. (parent company of Ray’s Food Place).”We hope other retailers in our area will join us in this initiative.”
Assistant Manager for Prineville Ray’s Food Place Terry Grimes pointed out a box at the service center for a weekly gift card drawing. Customers can win a $25 Ray’s Gift Card by using their reusable bags (includes reusing paper bags). Cashiers will distribute these customers an equal number of raffle tickets to the number of reusable bags used during a transaction. Each Monday through Valentine’s Day, Ray’s Food Place will draw one $25 gift card winner.
“We’re just trying to take the lead on it,” said Blind of the change to using paper bags.
Americans throw away approximately 100 billion plastic bags annually, according to Worldwatch, an environmental research group.
By using reusable bags or even paper bags twice per week for two years, customers will replace more than 400 plastic bags.
Prineville Ray’s Food Place is part of C and K Market, Inc. which is a family-owned company who operates 65 grocery stores and pharmacies. All their stores and pharmacies converted to paper for their checkout as of Jan. 14.