WEST CHESTER, Ohio (TDB) -- The opening of IKEA's first Ohio store last month was so over-hyped by the local media there were jokes that Cincinnati-area journalists were speaking Swedish in their newsrooms. Now there is real news -- the global retail giant says it is banning paper and plastic bags from all its American stores. IKEA says its move is designed to be environmentally responsible, and eliminate eyesores that can last for up to 1,000 years. Come October 1, customers will have to carry their goods away in reusable bags. They can buy them for 59 cents from the chain; or bring their own. The Sweden-based company says:
"According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. consumes over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps each year. Each year, Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethylene bags, and less than 1 percent of them are recycled. Single-use bags made of high-density polyethylene are the main culprit. Once brought into existence to tote purchases, they will accumulate and persist on our planet for up to a thousand years. Paper bags are also not the best alternative; stacking 10 pallets of paper bags is equivalent to one pallet of plastic, thus increasing the CO2 footprint. And it takes up to 14 billion [Ed Note: the press release has a typo; correct number is 14 million] trees to produce 10 billion grocery bags."
The Swedish company has been charging five cents for plastic bags and donating the money to forest restoration projects. IKEA has 34 stores in the U.S. and 236 in other nations. Its UK operation went plastic bag free last year, and Australia in December. IKEA has been selling plastic bags to shoppers and donating proceeds to American Forests, a non-profit that has been planting trees. If one big chain turns against plastic and paper, can others be far behind? Perhaps it is time for lawmakers and environmental activists to start pushing Kroger, Wal-Mart and other large retailers in the same direction.