Shopping for Plastic 2019

How does your favorite supermarket rank when it comes to reducing the plastic that’s polluting our oceans, waterways, and communities?

We’ve ranked 20 major U.S. supermarkets based on their efforts to reduce their reliance on plastics and tackle the pollution crisis. Every minute, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters the oceans. That plastic can kill whales, seabirds, turtles, and fish. It is overwhelming communities and impacting human health.

You deserve to know if supermarkets are reducing their use of wasteful single-use plastics and creating reuse and refill options for shoppers like you, or if they’re content with polluting the planet. Unfortunately, all of the supermarkets we assessed received failing scores. It is time to demand action.

Make sure your next supermarket trip is not filled with overpackaged overkill.

How Supermarkets Ranked on Plastics

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Legend

0 - 39.9

40 - 69.9

70 - 100

  1. #1

    ALDI

    Overall Score

    34.6/100

    Policy: 29.3

    Reduction: 30.8

    Initiatives: 27.7

    Transparency: 53.2

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    ALDI

    Score Breakdown

    ALDI is the top-ranked retailer for its efforts to tackle single-use plastics. Yet it still failed, which gives an idea of how poorly the others are performing. ALDI has several initiatives that most others do not: a specific plastic reduction target, a more comprehensive plastic reduction plan, greater transparency, and commitments to implement reuse and refill systems.

    Policy: ALDI has a plastic reduction target, though this goal includes lightweighting (using less plastic for certain items), instead of actually reducing the total number of single-use plastic items it carries. ALDI must update its commitment to move beyond lightweighting and set an absolute reduction target that leads to a complete phase-out of single-use plastics.

    Reduction: ALDI does not have in-store cafés, delis, or food or salad bars, so it avoids distributing any single-use plastic foodware. ALDI has never provided single-use plastic checkout bags, but it offers heavier “reusable” plastic bags for purchase. ALDI should get rid of these bags and ultimately phase out all single-use plastics in its stores.

    Initiatives: Because ALDI sells mostly its own brand products, it can move more quickly than most retailers to shift to innovative reuse and refill options. ALDI will implement a project by 2020 that makes it easier for customers to reuse its own brand product packaging.

    Transparency: ALDI scored better than most retailers in this category, largely because of its high level of reporting with Greenpeace on its overall plastic footprint. ALDI must publicly share this information along with its progress to reduce single-use plastics.

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  2. #2

    The Kroger Co.

    Overall Score

    26.5/100

    Policy: 22.8

    Reduction: 26.5

    Initiatives: 27.7

    Transparency: 30.6

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    Kroger • Ralphs • Dillons • Smith's • Roundy's • King Soopers • Fry's • QFC • City Market • Owen's • Jay C • Pay Less • Baker's • Gerbes • Harris Teeter • Pick 'n Save • Copps • Metro Market • Mariano's • Food 4 Less • Foods Co • Fred Meyer

    Score Breakdown

    While Kroger came in second place, its failing score leaves little room for pride. The silver lining? Kroger is the only U.S. retailer of its size that has committed to phase out single-use plastic checkout bags (by 2025), and it is starting to pilot reuse and refill solutions with the company Loop. However, given its size and influence, Kroger must take much bolder action to reduce its plastic footprint.

    Policy: Kroger has 2020 plastics goals for its own brand products, which largely focus on recycling. These goals might have been totally rad in the 1990s, but given its size and the scale of the plastic pollution crisis in 2019, Kroger must do far more to reduce its plastic footprint.

    Reduction: Kroger’s elimination of single-use plastic checkout bags by 2025 could ultimately prevent the distribution of 6 billion single-use plastic bags across its stores annually. This is encouraging, but a ridiculously slow timeline. Beyond plastic bags, Kroger must release a time-bound policy with specific absolute reduction targets to ultimately end its reliance on single-use plastics.

    Initiatives: Recently, Kroger announced a reuse and refill pilot program with Loop. This is encouraging news; Kroger should build on this initial work and must continue to engage big brands like Procter & Gamble to markedly increase its reuse and refill options nationwide.

    Transparency: Kroger needs to be more transparent about its plastic footprint and use this information to report progress on its single-use plastics goals. Otherwise, there is no way to know whether (or how much) Kroger is taking responsibility for its role in the plastic pollution crisis.

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  3. #3

    Albertsons Companies

    Overall Score

    23.6/100

    Policy: 19.6

    Reduction: 23.9

    Initiatives: 23.1

    Transparency: 29.0

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    Albertsons • Safeway • Vons • Jewel-Osco • Shaw's • ACME Markets • Tom Thumb • Randalls • United Supermarkets • Pavilions • Star Market • Carrs • Haggen

    Score Breakdown

    Albertsons carries an enormous number of products across its many stores, so it has a greater responsibility to dramatically reduce its massive plastic footprint. While Albertsons has a public policy and commitments on single-use plastics, it fails to include specific absolute reduction targets or a promise to transparently report on its plastic footprint.

    Policy: In April 2019, Albertsons released new commitments and plans to address single-use plastics. Its pledge is similar to the EMF Global Commitment, but it is not an official signatory. Albertsons falls short of ALDI because it does not have a specific absolute reduction target and, unlike Kroger, it has failed to commit to phase out single-use plastic checkout bags.

    Reduction: Albertsons plans to increase recycled content in some of its own brand products. The retailer is exploring how to reduce single-use plastic checkout bag use, though it should ban them outright. Albertsons must engage big brands, like Unilever, to phase out single-use plastics and switch to reuse and refill systems.

    Initiatives: Albertsons is one of the few profiled retailers that reported working to reduce plastic waste associated with its seafood procurement. Shockingly, Albertsons participates in the Hefty EnergyBag Program, which leads to non-recyclable plastics being incinerated or turned into fossil fuels. Plastic incineration in any form threatens human health and the climate. Albertsons must immediately stop participating in this program.

    Transparency: While Albertsons has publicly committed to “decrease plastic usage, with an emphasis on single-use plastics,” it is unclear by how much and whether the retailer will lead by setting absolute plastic reduction targets rather than lightweighting. Albertsons must be more transparent and not just report on improvements for which the public has no baseline.

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  4. #4

    Trader Joe’s

    Overall Score

    22.0/100

    Policy: 20.7

    Reduction: 17.1

    Initiatives: 10.8

    Transparency: 25.8

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    Trader Joe’s

    Score Breakdown

    In response to your concerns and a Greenpeace campaign, on New Year’s Eve 2018, Trader Joe’s made some New Year’s resolutions to start getting serious about its single-use plastics habit. While it’s a start, Trader Joe’s must significantly expand the scope of its commitments, employ reuse and refill delivery systems, and increase its transparency.

    Policy: Trader Joe’s is working with its suppliers to avoid certain types of plastics. While Trader Joe’s is working to reduce and remove plastic packaging, the retailer must include absolute reduction targets and timelines to reduce and phase out single-use plastics.

    Reduction: Trader Joe’s has stopped offering plastic bags at checkout, and has replaced plastic bags in the produce department with compostable alternatives. But swapping one throwaway material for another isn’t a winning strategy. The retailer is also working to eliminate polystyrene from its products (think of those annoying foam trays covered in plastic wrap), which is definitely a good move. Like ALDI, since Trader Joe’s has more direct control over its own brand products, it should move swiftly to implement sweeping reforms.

    Initiatives: Trader Joe’s needs to seriously up its game with reuse and refill systems. The retailer had bulk sections in stores years ago; it’s time to bring them back and permit customers to bring in their own reusable containers. Meanwhile, it should continue to liberate produce and other products from single-use plastics!

    Transparency: While Trader Joe’s has publicly committed to provide updates on its progress, it’s unclear if the retailer will also share information on its plastic footprint. Trader Joe’s customers expect to know how it’s doing, so the retailer may as well be up front about its plastic footprint.

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  5. #5

    Sprouts Farmers Market

    Overall Score

    19.7/100

    Policy: 14.1

    Reduction: 13.7

    Initiatives: 16.9

    Transparency: 53.2

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    Sprouts Farmers Market

    Score Breakdown

    While Sprouts performed poorly across most categories, its passing transparency score markedly increased its overall performance. Based on Sprouts’ survey responses and upcoming plans, the retailer appears ready to take meaningful steps to reduce its plastic footprint.

    Policy: Sprouts does not yet have a public policy or commitment on single-use plastics. The retailer is creating sustainable packaging guidelines, engaging suppliers, and developing reduction targets.

    Reduction: Roughly half of Sprouts stores have already phased out single-use plastic checkout bags, mostly because its California stores are prohibited by law from offering these bags. Sprouts must eliminate them in the rest of its stores. Historically, Sprouts has prioritized recycling initiatives, instead of reducing the plastic produced in the first place.

    Initiatives: Sprouts has reuse and refill options in some stores (e.g., milk bottle take-back program, reusable and refillable containers for bulk honey, vinegar, and oil, reusable produce and bulk bags). Sprouts should engage brands, like Coca-Cola, to innovate reuse and refill systems that avoid single-use plastics or any other single-use materials altogether.

    Transparency: Sprouts scored better than most retailers in this category, largely because of its high level of transparency with Greenpeace on its overall plastic footprint. Sprouts must publicly share this information as well as its progress toward its goals to reduce single-use plastics.

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  6. #6

    Walmart

    Overall Score

    19.4/100

    Policy: 17.4

    Reduction: 17.9

    Initiatives: 24.6

    Transparency: 22.6

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    Walmart • Walmart Supercenter • Neighborhood Market • Sam's Club

    Score Breakdown

    Walmart’s score is nothing to celebrate. As the largest retailer nationwide, Walmart can use its size and influence to shape future trends, for the benefit or ill of society. But so far, it’s failing big time on single-use plastics. Walmart must take bold action to reverse the current trajectory of turning our planet into a hazardous plastic dump site.

    Policy: Walmart doesn’t have a comprehensive public single-use plastic reduction policy. While it has various public goals and commitments, they’re largely focused on recycling. Walmart should lead by creating a time-bound policy based on absolute reduction targets to reduce and ultimately phase out single-use plastics.

    Reduction: Walmart plans to take six years to gradually increase its post-consumer recycled content to 20% for its own brands. This is painfully inadequate. Unlike Kroger, Walmart has yet to say no to single-use plastic checkout bags. Walmart must commit to ambitious absolute reduction targets.

    Initiatives: Walmart works with a host of groups, like the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and has created guides to help its suppliers make more sustainable packaging. But Walmart needs to use its massive influence on other global companies, like Nestlé, to prohibit single-use plastic packaged items from being sold at Walmart. Walmart should prioritize selling products via reuse and refill systems.

    Transparency: While Walmart should provide public updates in line with its EMF Global Commitment, it’s unclear whether it will also report more detailed information on its plastic footprint.

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  7. #7

    Hy-Vee

    Overall Score

    19.2/100

    Policy: 18.5

    Reduction: 17.1

    Initiatives: 20.0

    Transparency: 27.4

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    Hy-Vee • Hy-Vee Drugstore • Fast & Fresh • Mainstreet • HealthMarket • DollarFresh

    Score Breakdown

    Like most other retailers, Hy-Vee has mainly focused on recycling. A new plan is reportedly in the works, which will hopefully include a bold commitment to reduce single-use plastics.

    Policy: Hy-Vee does not have a public policy or commitments to reduce its plastic footprint. It has the opportunity to commit to an ambitious absolute reduction plan for single-use plastics that could set a much higher bar for U.S. retailers.

    Reduction: Hy-Vee is replacing single-use plastic items with compostable alternatives in its cafés, delis, bulk foods section, and convenience stores. While moving away from single-use plastics is great, retailers must avoid swapping one throwaway material for another. Hy-Vee must engage big brands, like Coca-Cola, to phase out single-use plastics and switch to reuse and refill systems.

    Initiatives: Hy-Vee had a chance and failed to support an Omaha, NE proposal to ban plastic bags at grocery stores. Hy-Vee participates in the Hefty EnergyBag Program, which leads to non-recyclable plastics being incinerated or turned into fossil fuels. Plastic incineration in any form threatens human health and the climate. Hy-Vee must immediately stop participating in this program.

    Transparency: Hy-Vee plans to provide annual updates on the amount of plastic that it removes as part of its initiatives. Keeping the public informed is great, but Hy-Vee needs to also share its overall plastic footprint in order to accurately measure progress.

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  8. #8

    Target

    Overall Score

    17.0/100

    Policy: 14.1

    Reduction: 17.1

    Initiatives: 21.5

    Transparency: 16.1

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    Target

    Score Breakdown

    While Target has worked on single-use plastics for years and signed the EMF Global Commitment, it’s unclear how it will implement these goals and whether it will set specific, time-bound single-use plastic reduction targets.

    Policy: As part of the EMF Global Commitment, Target has pledged a series of initiatives, including reduction, recyclability, and reporting on progress. Target needs a public plan detailing how it will achieve these goals. In the absence of ambitious absolute reduction targets, more than 400,000 people have signed change.org and Greenpeace petitions demanding Target ban single-use plastic checkout bags or ditch single-use plastic.

    Reduction: Target has switched to reusable foodware at its corporate offices, but has yet to implement this common-sense reuse system across its in-store cafés. Target is working to drive demand for post-consumer recycled content. However, as the equivalent of one truckload of plastic enters our oceans every minute, it’s clear that Target needs to prioritize overall reduction of single-use plastics.

    Initiatives: Target offers sustainable packaging guidance for its suppliers, but it’s less clear how the retailer is using its well-known brand to influence other big brands, like Nestlé, to phase out single-use plastics and switch to reuse and refill systems. Target participates in the Hefty EnergyBag Program, which leads to non-recyclable plastics being incinerated or turned into fossil fuels. Plastic incineration in any form threatens human health and the climate. Target must immediately stop participating in this program.

    Transparency: While Target should provide public updates in line with its EMF Global Commitment, it’s unclear whether it will also report more detailed information on its plastic footprint.

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  9. #9

    Costco

    Overall Score

    16.6/100

    Policy: 16.3

    Reduction: 16.2

    Initiatives: 16.9

    Transparency: 17.7

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    Costco

    Score Breakdown

    While Costco is working to eliminate the worst forms of plastic packaging, it hasn’t demonstrated publicly how it will reduce its overall plastic footprint and implement refill and reuse systems. This is a big problem and a squandered opportunity for the country’s largest warehouse chain.

    Policy: Costco doesn’t have a time-bound policy with specific absolute reduction targets to end its reliance on single-use plastics. Instead, it has aspirations to increase the recyclability of its packaging and some other initiatives that fall far short. Fortunately, Costco may implement better policies as early as this year.

    Reduction: Costco has never provided checkout bags. Instead, customers can use the same boxes that products were shipped in to stores or bring their own reusable bags. The retailer is working to replace single-use plastics with compostable options in its in-store cafés. But Costco needs to be wary: retailers shouldn’t simply replace one throwaway material with another. Instead, Costco must focus on reuse and refill.

    Initiatives: Costco must invest in reuse and refill systems for its Kirkland Signature products and with national brands like PepsiCo. In 2018, Costco sent 21,914 tons of trash in the U.S to “waste-to-energy” facilities. “Waste-to-energy” is often greenwashing for incineration of trash, where facilities burn a range of materials, including plastics, to produce energy. Plastic incineration in any form threatens human health and the climate. Costco should disclose the specific method(s) of “waste-to-energy” that it employs. If it is incineration, Costco should abolish this dangerous practice.

    Transparency: Costco isn’t transparent with its overall plastic footprint. and its aspirations online don’t feature any reduction targets or timelines. Costco should be much more transparent with its plastic footprint and progress toward meeting its existing and future goals.

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  10. #10

    Wegmans

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    Did not respond

    Overall Score

    14.6/100

    Policy: 16.3

    Reduction: 14.5

    Initiatives: 13.8

    Transparency: 12.9

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    Wegmans

    Score Breakdown

    While Wegmans talks a good “sustainable packaging” game on its website, and recently released new plastic reduction targets, its commitments fall short. Our planet is far past the point where recyclability, lightweighting, and material substitution (e.g., bioplastics) of throwaway packaging will solve the plastic pollution crisis. Wegmans must prioritize absolute reduction of single-use plastics.

    Policy: Wegmans doesn’t have a comprehensive public policy on single-use plastics. In April 2019, it committed to reduce its in-store plastic packaging from fossil fuels by 10 million pounds by 2024. Before celebrating, know that Wegmans will attain this goal “to a large extent” through material substitution.

    Reduction: Wegmans wants to avoid fossil fuel-based plastics, and claims to have avoided more than 6 million pounds of them since 2016. But its focus on bioplastics and recycled content in its packaging is woefully insufficient given the scale of the plastic pollution crisis. Wegmans must focus on eliminating single-use plastics from its stores and not just replacing one throwaway item with another.

    Initiatives: Wegmans hasn’t publicly communicated whether it’s investing in alternative delivery systems like reuse and refill, nor how it’s encouraging big brands like Unilever to launch these initiatives. Rather than maintaining the same packaging made out of slightly less plastic, Wegmans needs to truly rethink the way it provides products for its customers.

    Transparency: Wegmans’ various claims about plastics reductions can’t be verified, since it doesn’t provide any information on its overall plastic footprint.

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  11. #11

    Whole Foods Market

    Overall Score

    13.7/100

    Policy: 15.2

    Reduction: 14.5

    Initiatives: 10.8

    Transparency: 11.3

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    Whole Foods Market • Whole Foods Market 365

    Score Breakdown

    Whole Foods presents itself as an ecologically aware supermarket chain, but it failed big time on single-use plastics. Whole Foods has largely focused on recycling initiatives and lightweighting plastics; it needs to up its game to reduce and ultimately end its reliance on single-use plastics.

    Policy: Whole Foods doesn’t have a comprehensive public policy or commitments to reduce its plastic footprint.

    Reduction: Whole Foods claims several firsts among large, nationwide U.S. retailers, including the first to ban single-use checkout bags and plastic straws. It also banned microbeads before a national law took effect. While indeed helpful initiatives, given the scale of the plastic pollution crisis and Whole Foods’ massive plastic footprint, this retailer needs to do much more.

    Initiatives: Aside from its standard bulk food sections (e.g., dried foods, coffee), Whole Foods doesn’t have any innovative reuse and refill systems. Whole Foods must engage its own brand and national brand suppliers, like Danone, to reduce its single-use plastic footprint and switch to reuse and refill systems.

    Transparency: Whole Foods made headlines for its 2008 single-use plastic checkout bag ban and used to blog about its Responsible Packaging Task Force in 2011. However, aside from its recent straws announcement, Whole Foods has largely been quiet on its website and doesn’t disclose information on its overall plastic footprint.

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  12. #12

    The Save Mart Companies

    Overall Score

    10.6/100

    Policy: 13.0

    Reduction: 10.3

    Initiatives: 9.2

    Transparency: 9.7

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    Save Mart • S-Mart • Lucky • Lucky California • FoodMaxx • MaxxValue Foods

    Score Breakdown

    Save Mart missed the mark on single-use plastics. While the retailer reported several initiatives based on its survey response, it doesn’t have a public policy or plan to reduce its plastic footprint, and it remains unclear if it will announce one.

    Policy: Save Mart doesn’t have a comprehensive public policy to reduce and ultimately phase out single-use plastics.

    Reduction: Save Mart has some initiatives (e.g., bulk food pilots, eliminating polystyrene in some stores) and does not carry single-use plastic checkout bags in most stores. However, it lacks a comprehensive strategy to substantially reduce and ultimately phase out single-use plastics. Save Mart’s initiatives focus largely on recycling or switching from single-use plastics to other throwaway materials.

    Initiatives: Save Mart indicated very few innovative practices. The retailer offers one brand of milk that comes in a glass container that can be returned for a bottle deposit. The retailer is piloting a program for bulk freezer goods, where customers can use compostable/recyclable boxes. Save Mart must engage its own brand and national brand suppliers, like Procter & Gamble, to reduce its single-use plastic footprint and switch to reuse and refill systems.

    Transparency: Like many other retailers, Save Mart needs to analyze and publicly disclose its plastic footprint. This requires engaging its own brand and national brands; there should be no excuse for failure to do so.

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  13. #13

    Ahold Delhaize

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    Did not respond

    Overall Score

    10.2/100

    Policy: 9.8

    Reduction: 8.5

    Initiatives: 12.3

    Transparency: 14.5

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    Stop & Shop • Giant • Martin's • Food Lion • Hannaford

    Score Breakdown

    Ahold Delhaize is the worst-ranked among the five-largest U.S. retailers by sales. However, it could quickly turn things around. In late 2018, Ahold Delhaize signed on to the EMF Global Commitment. Now, it must publicly detail how it will markedly reduce its massive plastic footprint.

    Policy: Ahold Delhaize is one of the few U.S. retailers to sign on to the EMF Global Commitment. It must now announce a time-bound absolute reduction target to reduce its single-use plastic footprint.

    Reduction: Aside from its purported numbers of single-use checkout bags avoided, Ahold Delhaize has nothing significant to offer for reduction, especially since it still provides single-use plastic checkout bags. Ahold Delhaize has largely focused on recycling, but as the equivalent of one truckload of plastic enters our oceans every minute, clearly recycling alone is not the solution.

    Initiatives: It’s unclear how Ahold Delhaize is engaging its own and national brands, including behemoths like Coca-Cola, to reduce its reliance on single-use plastics and switch to reuse and refill systems.

    Transparency: While Ahold Delhaize should provide public updates in line with its EMF Global Commitment, it’s unclear whether it will also report more detailed information on its plastic footprint.

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  14. #14

    Southeastern Grocers

    Overall Score

    7.7/100

    Policy: 7.6

    Reduction: 4.3

    Initiatives: 3.1

    Transparency: 25.8

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    BI-LO • Harveys Supermarket • Winn-Dixie • Fresco y Más

    Score Breakdown

    Historically, Southeastern Grocers has done very little on single-use plastics. However, it was more forthcoming on its plastic footprint than many other retailers. Greenpeace remains cautiously optimistic that Southeastern Grocers is preparing to take action to reduce its plastic footprint.

    Policy: Southeastern Grocers doesn’t have a comprehensive public policy to address its role in the plastic pollution crisis. It must immediately formulate a plan that addresses both its own brand and national brand products, and is based on absolute reductions instead of minor tweaks to packaging design.

    Reduction: Southeastern Grocers has virtually nothing to show for plastic reduction in its stores. Like several other retailers, it has a community bag reward program that encourages recycling and charitable giving in local communities. But recycling alone will never solve the plastic pollution crisis.

    Initiatives: Southeastern Grocers has no known groundbreaking initiatives. As it develops a comprehensive plan, Southeastern Grocers must engage its own brand and national brand suppliers, like Danone, to phase out single-use plastics and switch to reuse and refill systems.

    Transparency: Southeastern Grocers scored better than most retailers in this category, largely because of its high level of transparency with Greenpeace on its overall plastic footprint. Southeastern Grocers must also publicly share this information and progress updates on its efforts to reduce single-use plastics.

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  15. #15

    Publix

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    Did not respond

    Overall Score

    7.1/100

    Policy: 5.4

    Reduction: 6.0

    Initiatives: 12.3

    Transparency: 8.1

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    Publix • Publix Sabor • GreenWise Market

    Score Breakdown

    Publix failed big time, thanks to its almost singular focus on recycling and lack of transparency. Publix touts a strange assortment of tepid “achievements” for a retailer of its size, including removing plastic sleeves from mops. Publix has utterly failed to take responsibility for its massive role in the plastic pollution crisis, and concerned customers are taking note.

    Policy: Publix doesn’t have a comprehensive public single-use plastic reduction policy.

    Reduction: Publix’s most noteworthy achievement may be its efforts to reduce the amount of polystyrene foam used to ship seafood to its stores. But this alone is insufficient, given Publix’s massive plastic footprint. While Publix claims to have plastic bag reduction goals, it appears to have not trained all staff on these goals. Some shoppers have complained that most cashiers readily hand out single-use plastic checkout bags, even when only one item is purchased.

    Initiatives: Rather than make headlines for progress, in April 2019 Publix was criticized by lawmakers and shoppers for lobbying against single-use plastic bag bans in Florida. Publix must turn a corner. It can start by engaging its own brand and national brand suppliers, like Procter & Gamble, to phase out single-use plastics and switch to reuse and refill systems.

    Transparency: There is no information on Publix’s overall plastic footprint or any kind of commitments that have a transparency or accountability component.

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  16. #16

    Giant Eagle

    Overall Score

    6.2/100

    Policy: 6.5

    Reduction: 5.1

    Initiatives: 9.2

    Transparency: 6.5

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    Giant Eagle • Giant Eagle Express • Market District • Market District Express

    Score Breakdown

    Giant Eagle has largely focused on recycling and is considering small-scale pilot programs to identify the best ways to reduce its single-use plastic footprint. While it is important for retailers to consider how to avoid unintended consequences (e.g., increased deforestation by switching from plastic to paper), retailers can’t use this as an excuse to delay sweeping and swift action.

    Policy: Giant Eagle doesn’t have a time-bound policy with absolute reduction targets to ultimately end its reliance on single-use plastics.

    Reduction: While Giant Eagle is planning pilot programs and considering alternatives to single-use plastics (e.g., removing checkout bags; evaluating compostable alternatives for to-go containers, straws, and cutlery), its initiatives lack both the scale and the urgency needed to address the incessant flow of plastics into our environment.

    Initiatives: Giant Eagle has started to engage its own brand and national brand suppliers on plastics. Giant Eagle should take this opportunity to encourage large national brand suppliers, like Nestlé, to phase out single-use plastics and switch to reuse and refill systems.

    Transparency: Giant Eagle didn’t report on its overall plastic footprint and must transparently release this information, especially as the public is becoming increasingly concerned about this issue.

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  17. #17

    WinCo Foods

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    Did not respond

    Overall Score

    4.0/100

    Policy: 3.3

    Reduction: 4.3

    Initiatives: 4.6

    Transparency: 3.2

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    WinCo Foods • Waremart by WinCo

    Score Breakdown

    WinCo is one of the worst-ranked retailers. Unsurprisingly, it has no public plan to reduce its plastic footprint. As evidence of its ignorance, it even cheapened the age-old adage of “reduce, reuse, recycle” into “recycle, recycle, recycle.” Apparently, WinCo missed the memo on the failures of recycling.

    Policy: WinCo doesn’t have a comprehensive public policy or commitments to reduce its plastic footprint.

    Reduction: WinCo “proudly” offers customers the option of paper or single-use plastic bags at checkout, unless it’s otherwise prohibited by local law. This pride is misplaced. WinCo’s laughable suggestion to “recycle, recycle, recycle” omits the two far more effective strategies—reduce (stop waste from being created in the first place) and reuse (instead of throwing away valuable resources).

    Initiatives: WinCo could make a tremendous difference if it seized the opportunity to convert its 800-item bulk foods section into a reusable container paradise. But this significant plastics reduction opportunity is squandered. WinCo provides single-use plastic bags and containers and doesn’t allow customers to bring in their own reusable containers. But if Canadian retailers like Metro can do it for fresh foods like meat and seafood, surely WinCo can find a way for dried goods.

    Transparency: WinCo isn’t even remotely transparent about its overall plastic footprint, and hasn’t publicly demonstrated that it’s even aware that plastics are a problem.

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  18. #18

    Meijer

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    Did not respond

    Overall Score

    3.3/100

    Policy: 3.3

    Reduction: 3.4

    Initiatives: 3.1

    Transparency: 3.2

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    Meijer • Bridge Street Market

    Score Breakdown

    Meijer’s lack of transparency and limited information on its website and in the press made it near impossible for it to perform respectably in this assessment. Given the size of Meijer’s operations, this is troubling.

    Policy: Meijer doesn’t have a comprehensive public policy or commitments to reduce its plastic footprint. Meijer’s sustainability program purportedly includes waste reduction, recycling, pollution prevention, and responsible growth. Meijer should therefore invest in pollution prevention by announcing a time-bound absolute reduction target to reduce its single-use plastic footprint.

    Reduction: Aside from some basic recycling initiatives, there is no indication that Meijer is working to reduce its single-use plastic footprint.

    Initiatives: Meijer has partnered with Colgate-Palmolive and TerraCycle on hard-to-recycle plastics, using a school competition to encourage recycling and then build a playground from recycled plastics for the winning school. While it’s great to engage youth, Meijer should invest in their future by reducing plastic production. Meijer could start today by encouraging Colgate-Palmolive to markedly reduce its single-use plastic footprint and employ reuse and refill systems.

    Transparency: There’s no indication of Meijer’s plastic footprint and very little information besides recycling initiatives on its website. The biggest headlines Meijer made on plastics in 2019 were in April, when it recalled ground beef at risk of plastic contamination.

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  19. #19

    Wakefern

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    Overall Score

    3.1/100

    Policy: 3.3

    Reduction: 2.6

    Initiatives: 3.1

    Transparency: 4.8

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    Stores & Banners

    ShopRite • Price Rite Marketplace • The Fresh Grocer • Dearborn Market

    Score Breakdown

    Wakefern is yet another large retailer that appears to be doing next to nothing to address its role in the plastic pollution crisis.

    Policy: Wakefern doesn’t have a comprehensive public policy or commitments to reduce its plastic footprint.

    Reduction: Wakefern staff participates in beach cleanups, but the retailer doesn’t appear to be reducing the production of the very single-use plastics that could end up on those beaches. Wakefern’s reason for keeping single-use plastic checkout bags is that it wants to offer customers a choice. Oddly, this policy is featured in the Grocery Bag Reduction section of its ShopRite banner’s sustainability website.

    Initiatives: Wakefern operates its own recycling center for recycling materials, including its plastic deli pails and bags. But recycling alone hasn’t and won’t stem the tidal wave of plastics into our environment. Wakefern must engage its own brand and national brand suppliers, like Unilever, to switch to reuse and refill systems.

    Transparency: Practically no useful public information is available on Wakefern’s policies, initiatives, or plastic footprint.

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  20. #20

    H-E-B

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    Overall Score

    1.8/100

    Policy: 2.2

    Reduction: 1.7

    Initiatives: 1.5

    Transparency: 1.6

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    Stores & Banners

    H-E-B • H-E-B Plus! • Mi Tienda • Joe V's Smart Shop • Central Market

    Score Breakdown

    H-E-B is the worst-ranked retailer on single-use plastics. Given H-E-B’s size and massive plastic footprint, it’s disturbing that it is doing next to nothing on single-use plastics. There is zero indication that H-E-B’s leadership is aware of the massive scale of the plastic pollution crisis.

    Policy: H-E-B doesn’t have a comprehensive public policy or commitments to reduce its plastic footprint.

    Reduction: H-E-B appears to be stuck in the 1990s, focusing on recycling and beach cleanups. H-E-B failed to do the right thing on plastic bags by actually reintroducing them at several stores in Texas after a 3-year hiatus, simply because the state supreme court ruled a local bag ban to be incompatible with state law. H-E-B could have simply chosen to not reintroduce them.

    Initiatives: Greenpeace couldn’t find any innovative efforts undertaken or planned by H-E-B. Nor is it known if H-E-B is engaging its own brand and national brand suppliers, including PepsiCo, to prioritize plastic reduction and reuse and refill systems.

    Transparency: Aside from outdated recycling rates on H-E-B’s sustainability website, Greenpeace couldn’t find any meaningful information about H-E-B’s plastic footprint or comprehensive efforts to reduce its reliance on single-use plastics.

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Show Glossary

Glossary

  1. Absolute reduction:

    Absolute reduction targets reduce the total number of single-use plastic packaging units and thereby reduce a retailer’s overall plastic footprint. Greenpeace urges retailers to set absolute reduction targets to begin reducing and ultimately end their reliance on single-use plastics. Absolute reduction is more effective than relative reduction.

    Bioplastics:

    May refer to either “bio-based” (partly or largely derived from bio-based feedstocks like corn) or “biodegradable” plastics (if they meet specific industrial standards). A bioplastic could be both bio-based and biodegradable. While often promoted as sustainable alternatives to fossil-based plastics, bioplastics can pollute as much as their fossil-based equivalents do. The heat and humidity conditions required for specific microorganisms to biodegrade these materials are rarely, if ever, met in the natural environment—whether at land or at sea.

    Compostable plastics:

    A subset of biodegradable plastics that biodegrade within the conditions and timeframe of the composting process. There is no consistently used global standard for compostability, and industrial facilities for handling the materials are not widely available and accessible to customers.

    EMF Global Commitment:

    The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment includes 2025 targets for signatories to employ to help eradicate plastic pollution at its source. As of this writing, U.S. retail signatories include Walmart, Target, and Ahold Delhaize.

    Hefty EnergyBag Program:

    A collaboration among Dow Chemical, Keep America Beautiful, Reynolds Consumer Products, and waste management operators in select U.S. cities. Well-intentioned customers who receive or purchase these bags place non-recyclable plastics into the Hefty EnergyBag. These plastics are then incinerated or sent to pyrolysis plants, which convert plastics into a fossil fuel that is then burned. Burning plastic is known to release carcinogenic pollutants, which lead to a wide array of debilitating human health impacts. Albertsons, Target, and Hy-Vee are among retailers that sell the Hefty EnergyBag.

    Lightweighting:

    A design process used to reduce the overall amount of plastics required (by weight) to produce packaging, though it doesn’t reduce the number of packaging units (see relative reduction). Rather than lightweighting, Greenpeace recommends a complete phase-out of single-use plastic packaging, and that retailers focus on reducing the total number of single-use plastic units (see absolute reduction).

    Material substitution:

    Changing the kind of material (e.g., from plastic to paper, from fossil-based plastics to bioplastics) that’s used to create packaging. Often retailers opt to switch from single-use plastics to other single-use materials, which usually shifts ecological harms from one area to another. Greenpeace urges retailers to invest in reuse and refill systems, not simply replacing one throwaway material for another.

    Own brand:

    A retailer’s store brand (also called private label) products. Because retailers develop these products with suppliers, they can often improve the sustainability of these products more quickly than national brands.

  2. Packaging unit:

    A single packaging container in which a standard quantity of product will fit (e.g., a single bottle of milk or water, a single ready-to-eat meal tray). For example, a 24-pack of bottled water would count as 24 units.

    Plastic footprint:

    The total amount of plastic, by units and weight, used or sold throughout a company’s operations.

    Polystyrene:

    A resin that has many applications, commonly as an expanded foam, such as that found in take-out food containers. What is commonly called Styrofoam is actually a trademarked product frequently used in building materials.

    Recycling:

    Recycled or recyclable throwaway plastics are still single-use. Single-use plastics are always going to be throwaway plastics, regardless of whether a company is able to recycle a percentage of them. More than 90% of the plastic waste produced has not been recycled and eventually a proportion of that packaging will end up polluting our environment. Companies can try to spin their recycling efforts as “making a difference” for our oceans and waterways, but they’re actually just dodging true accountability for the crisis they helped to create. Real leadership means reducing the throwaway plastics they produce and sell. Read more about plastic pollution FAQs.

    Relative reduction:

    Reducing the amount of plastic used for packaging units via lightweighting or material substitution. While this indeed reduces a retailer’s plastic footprint, it fails to reduce the total number of packaging units (see absolute reduction). Greenpeace urges retailers to move beyond these unambitious strategies and to set time-bound absolute reduction targets that markedly reduce and ultimately end their reliance on single-use plastics.

    Retailers:

    Short for grocery retailers. This ranking evaluates U.S. grocery retailers on single-use plastics.

    Reuse and refill systems:

    Reusable packaging—either customer provided or via retailer take-back schemes, or coupled with in-store or at-home refill techniques—can drastically reduce single-use plastics. Refill strategies can be broken up into four categories: refill at home, refill in store, return from home, and return in store.

    Single-use plastic:

    Any plastic that is intended for one-time use—such as plastic bags, sachets, bottles, and food, drink, and non-food packaging, designed to be used only once and then disposed of. This includes recyclable packaging.

    Stores and banners:

    Some larger grocery retailers own and operate many different supermarket chains, which are also known as banners. For example, the retailer Ahold Delhaize (a parent company) owns and operates several banners, including Stop & Shop, Giant, Martin’s, Food Lion, and Hannaford.

    "Waste-to-energy":

    This is often greenwashing for incineration, which, according to the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, can “involve processes such as combustion, pyrolysis, gasification, or plasma arc. But they all have the same claim—’burning waste will make our waste problems disappear.'”

Absolute reduction targets reduce the total number of single-use plastic packaging units (see definition below) and thereby reduce a retailer’s overall plastic footprint. Greenpeace urges retailers to set absolute reduction targets to begin reducing and ultimately end their reliance on single-use plastics. Absolute reduction is more effective than relative reduction (see definition below).

How We Ranked Supermarkets

Find out what we used to evaluate supermarkets on single-use plastics.

Greenpeace obtained information from supermarkets through a standardized 20-question survey, email and phone conversations, publicly available information, and in-store visits. We scored supermarkets in four categories (see below), which yielded an overall score (on a 100-point scale). Supermarkets are ranked by their overall score, where below 40 is failing (red), 40 to 69.9 is passing (yellow), and above 70 is leading (green).

  • Policy

    Does the supermarket have a comprehensive public policy to mitigate its plastic footprint and transition away from single-use plastics to more sustainable product delivery systems? Does it clearly define and enforce rigorous standards with its suppliers to remove problematic packaging and reduce its plastic footprint?

  • Reduction

    Does the supermarket have a time-bound commitment to reduce—and ultimately phase out—single-use plastics? Is it working to reduce the number of items packaged in plastic? Is it moving beyond initial steps like banning plastic bags or straws and working toward significant reductions in its plastic footprint?

  • Initiatives

    How is the supermarket engaging multiple stakeholders, including its suppliers, to implement alternatives to single-use plastics? Is it shifting toward reuse and refill delivery systems? Is it working to transform its operations or is it engaging in greenwashing that prevents meaningful progress?

  • Transparency

    How does the supermarket communicate to its customers and the public its policies and information about its single-use plastic footprint? Beyond reporting general updates, does the supermarket publicly report its overall plastic footprint and its actions to shift from single-use plastics?

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Did not respond

Indicates the seven retailers that declined to participate in the survey process.

This is an overview of each assessment category. For more details on Greenpeace’s methodology, please view the full report.

Demand your supermarket reduce plastic packaging!

Plastic pollution is destroying our oceans. It's harming turtles, whales, fish, and every part of the ocean food chain. Supermarkets use a lot of plastic to package goods that we buy every day. Ask major supermarkets to lead by eliminating unnecessary plastic packaging.

Add your name today to tell your supermarket it’s time to ditch single-use plastic packaging!

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