Hanover Co-op plans to phase out plastic bags at registers by Spring 2020

Hanover Co-op’s pledge to phase out plastic bags is part of its ongoing sustainability commitments. [photo: Hanover Co-op]

Following more than 30 years of programs and incentives to encourage the use of reusable bags, the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society announced it will begin to reduce reliance on plastic grocery bags through a planned process over the coming 12 months. Hanover Co-op General Manager Ed Fox made this announcement at the cooperative’s monthly board meeting on March 27.

The decision was made based on the cooperative’s long-standing sustainability commitments and was informed by the work of a committee of Hanover Co-op board members, employees and members. Part of that group’s work was a survey of members and shoppers to hear a variety of perspectives on the issue.

Over the course of the coming 12 months, this effort will involve a number of departments and seek to ease the impact on members and shoppers. The four stores of the Hanover Co-op record nearly two million customer transactions annually. Rather than simply wait for state legislation to be enacted, the co-op seeks to implement the change in a way that avoids placing an undue burden on membership or its broad range of shoppers.

“We know there are a variety of opinions on this matter, but as a cooperative, one thing we can agree on is that we need to reduce our dependency on plastics and this is another step, of many, for our cooperative,” said Hanover Co-op General Manager Ed Fox.

State legislation, which is still evolving, will inform the actions of retailers around the region. But in the meantime, the co-op’s plan is to focus on what is within its control and prioritize key action steps for the coming year. Fox emphasized that this isn’t a matter of simply doing the right thing, but “doing the thing right.”

In addition to programs to encourage the reuse of grocery bags, for many years the cooperative has offered environmental programs, including cork recycling, e-waste recycling, #5 plastic recycling, and paper recycling. Each year it also diverts about 150 tons of organic material from the landfill through its food-waste reduction programs. The EPA has honored Hanover Co-op’s efforts in the sustainable management of refrigeration.

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