WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — Schoolchildren in Tops Friendly Markets' operating areas have good reason to buy the retailer's Enviro-Bag trash bags: They helped create them.
The bags are made from plastic shopping bags students collected and sent to WasteZero, Murrells Inlet, S.C., which recycled them into 13-gallon kitchen and 30-gallon trash bags sold at Tops.
“Kids can actually go and buy something they helped make,” said Dawn Currie, WasteZero's marketing director.
Dubbed the School Recycling Program, it benefits the children because their schools receive up to $1 per pound of bags they collect. Schools can use the money in a variety of ways, from purchasing trees to science and computer equipment.
The bags are also sold at several other grocery chains, including H.E. Butt Grocery Co., Kroger, Schnucks and Lowes. Both Tops and H-E-B market them under their store brands.
Schnuck Markets, St. Louis, was the first retailer to pilot the program in 1991, said spokesman Paul Simon.
One of the reasons Schnucks got involved was because it is a closed-loop program: The same families who turn in plastic bags at local schools can buy the recycled product at Schnucks stores, Simon said.
At the same time, the program provides a much-needed market for recyclables.
“It's not just important to recycle. It is also important to provide a market for recycled materials and product, or the act of recycling cannot be sustainable,” said Simon.
While the bags are not a category leader, they were not meant to be. Rather, they are sold to cater to environmentally conscious customers who want to take that extra step.
“They are a good example of the variety of products offered at Schnucks,” Simon said.
Despite being around for years, the program is growing in popularity due to the increased attention on the environment, according to WasteZero's Currie.
“The whole marketplace is more environmentally friendly,” Currie said.
H-E-B, for instance, promoted the bags in April as part of a larger Earth Day event. In the seven years that H-E-B has sold Enviro-Bags, it has helped recycle 12 tons of plastic bags, according to Currie.
“Don't throw away those plastic grocery bags,” H-E-B writes in promotional materials. “Your school can sign up to collect H-E-B plastic grocery bags and earn money for every pound you accumulate. The bags you collect are then turned into trash bags, which can be purchased at H-E-B.”
The program has raised over $1.5 million for schools. All monies are paid to schools under the retailer's name.
“It's great public relations for retailers because they're giving back to the community,” Currie said.
Enviro-Bags Get New Look at Tops
WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — Tops Friendly Markets has redesigned its private-label Enviro-Bags.
Rolling out this month, the new packaging features the “School Recycling Program” logo more prominently.
Tops started selling Enviro-Bags in 2003, and changed them to its private label a year later. They are now called Tops Enviro-Bags.
SAN ANTONIO — H.E. Butt Grocery's website provides a step-by-step description of how plastic shopping bags are recycled into trash bags sold in its stores. According to its website:1. Groceries are purchased at H-E-B and bagged with plastic bags. The bags are saved by students and community members and brought to a participating school.
2. Once at the school, the bags are rolled tightly and packed into shipping liners. The heavier the liners, the more dollars for the school.
3. Once the schools' recycling liners are full, they're mailed to Enviro-Bag, where the contents are weighed, sorted and graded on cleanliness. A report card is sent to the school, telling them how much the liners weighed and how much money they earned.
4. A machine grinds H-E-B plastic bags into tiny plastic pellets.
5. Pellets are sent through an extrusion machine where they are compressed, heated and flattened to make trash bags.
6. H-E-B Enviro-Bag trash bags are shipped to H-E-B stores, stocked on the shelves and made available for purchase.
7. H-E-B sells the bags in two stockkeeping units: 13-gallon drawstring tall kitchen bags, 20-count; and 30-gallon drawstring trash, 10-count.