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Local Supermarkets Get Graded on Reusable Bag Practices

Stop & Shop tops list of Three Village supermarkets with an A+ grade from Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

 A Long Island nonprofit group has released a report grading local supermarkets like Stop & Shop, Wild by Nature, Walmart and King Kullen on their reusable bag practices and policies.

In a report released Thursday, Citizens Campaign for the Environment gave Stop & Shop an A-plus grade but gave King Kullen an F.

Stop & Shop, with locations on Route 25A in East Setauket and Pond Path in South Setauket, scored well based on its availability of reusable shopping bags, its signage in stores and parking lots reminding customers to use them, and its offering of a five cent credit per reusable bag customers use at checkout lines.

"Stop and Shop has long taken a proactive approach to working with federal, state and local officials to support efforts that will make a real difference in this area," said Faith Weiner, director of public affairs for Stop & Shop.

King Kullen, which sells reusable bags and provides plastic bag recycling bins but does not offer a credit when customers reuse shopping bags, responded to the report in a statement released Thursday.

"King Kullen encourages all customers to recycle their plastic bags by bringing them right back to the store and depositing them in the recycling bins," said King Kullen Vice President Thomas Cullen. "We also hope King Kullen shoppers will purchase the reusable bags we've made available at every store — but that is the customer's decision. We believe in offering a choice."

Waldbaums and Pathmark received B-plus grades on the Citizens Campaign report, while Target and Wild by Nature received B grades. Walmart, which sells the cheapest reusable bags in Three Village at 50 cents a pop, scored a C-plus.

"Our focus is on how can we provide reusable bags to our customers at the lowest cost," Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said. "Just like any product at Walmart, our goal is to be the low cost leader."

The report assessed supermarkets on nine criteria, including availability and cost of reusable shopping bags, signage in stores, windows and parking lots, discounts for reusing bags, cashier training, and willingness to participate in the consumer study.

"Grocery stores have helped create the problem of disposable bags and now we need them to help solve this problem," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "We hope all stores use this report as an opportunity to implement policies that encourage consumers to make the switch to reusable bags."

On Friday, consumers visiting one Stop & Shop location in East Setauket had mixed opinions on reusable shopping bags.

"I try and keep away from plastic. The plastic will last longer than I will," said John McCuen of Port Jefferson Village, who said the five-cent discount per bag is a nice perk to shopping at Stop & Shop, "but it's not the reason I come here."

Dan Fourman of Stony Brook prefers using paper shopping bags, which he tends to reuse anyway.

"They charge so much for the reusable bags, it's not worth it," Fourman said. "It's nice that they're at least attempting to do it, but the effort still costs something. If the bags were free, that would be a different story."

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