Jacksonville’s Native Sun Food Markets has eliminated the use of plastic grocery bags in all three area stores, opting instead to use paper bags made from recycled materials.
While the Jacksonville Beach location never provided plastic bags due to its proximity to the ocean, the other two stores now offers a “Take a Bag, Leave a Bag” program in which shoppers can donate reusable bags, borrow a bag or use a recycled cardboard box to take groceries home. Reusable bags are also for sale.
Appearing on First Coast Connect Wednesday, community relations manager Meghan Fiveash said they always tried to be environmentally conscious.
“We’ve actually only offered compostable or biodegradable plastic bags for the past several years, however Jacksonville doesn’t have the infrastructure to recycle.” she said. “You can’t break them down responsibly with our municipalities so we decided to just eliminate them all together.”
Fiveash said the response from customers has been generally positive since they understand the connection between the environment and their food supply. Native Sun is going to give away 500 reusable bags at the Opening of the Beaches Parade April 30.
The plastic bags are a serious environmental concern. Last year, the Ocean Conservancy’s report for International Coastal Cleanup Day said plastic bags were the sixth most common item found on beaches and waterways around the world.
According to the World Economic Forum, approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic debris enters the oceans each year.
Recycling bags is also very expensive. Jacksonville recently dropped plastic bags from its list of acceptable items to be picked up for recycling.
According to the Clean Air Council it cost $4,000 to recycle one ton of plastic bags, but can only be sold for $32.
Several local supermarket chains, like Publix and Winn-Dixie, still have collection bins for plastic bags.