In honor of Earth Month, Smith’s Food & Drug, a division of The Kroger Co., are encouraging customers to return thin-filter plastic materials to their local store to be recycled into park benches for the local community. Smith’s associates in 141 stores will engage with customers, during an in-store volunteer event on April 7, to explain the importance of recycling plastic and bring awareness to the recycling service available.    

Smith’s Plastic Bag Recycling program makes it easy to recycle thin-filter plastic materials because shoppers can bring these items to their neighborhood store and deposit them into bins located in the front vestibule. Plastic bags and other thin-filter plastics are then collected and recycled into other products such as park benches, plastic landscape bricks, and plastic lumber. 

Plastic materials customers are encouraged to recycle in the store include: bubble wrap, plastic overwrap around paper towels, cereal box liners, bread bags, dry cleaning bags, produce bags, newspaper sleeves, plastic shipping envelopes and clean sandwich bags.

In 2020, Smith’s recycled 39 million pounds of plastic from its stores and has committed to phasing out single-use plastic bags by 2025.  Some estimates suggest that 100 billion single-use plastic bags are thrown away in the U.S. every year. Currently, less than five percent of plastic bags are recycled annually in America, and single-use plastic bags are the fifth-most common single-use plastic found in the environment by magnitude. Smith’s also encourages the use of reusable bags through their fuel incentive program, offering 5 fuel points at check out for every reusable bag used (up to 50 fuel points per transaction). “Instead of plastic bags ending up in landfills or littering green spaces, we utilize innovative services to turn the material into plastic lumber for the constructions of community benches and other items,” said Aubriana Martindale, Smith’s Corporate Affairs Manager. “Earth Month is a great catalyst for action and awareness. Instead of throwing out plastic shopping bags and other plastic items, we encourage our customers to deposit them in containers located in the vestibules of our stores and help us turn more bags into benches.”