Look! IKEA to Ditch Plastic or Paper Bags Completely!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Starting October 2008, IKEA will stop offering customers plastic or paper bags at their stores, with only reusable bags available to customers. The decision came after an overwhelming positive feedback from IKEA customers, who voted over 92% to take their “bag the plastic bag” program one step further and ditch plastic bags altogether.

More details about the change under the jump…

How will customers really react once this measure goes into effect? We suspect some sour faces initially, but people will likely get used to it quicker than they think (remember the brouhaha over McD’s ditching polystyrene? Yeah, we forgot too) and soon realize it’s not only smart to use reusable bags, but not all that hard (as many Trader Joe’s and farmer’s market shoppers already know). Nice work, IKEA…let’s hope some of the other retail giants follow suit.

From IKEA’s press release:

It’s a dialogue we hear everyday. Can we? Do we? Will we really change our behavior to be environmentally responsible? IKEA believed we could and would. With the introduction of its leadership ‘bag the plastic bag’ program in March 2007, IKEA set a goal of reducing its US stores’ plastic bag consumption by 50%; from 70 million to 35 million plastic bags in the first year. The call was to go reusable with the iconic IKEA blue bag for $.59 or use an alternative reusable bag. And IKEA also said if that was not an acceptable solution, IKEA plastic bags could be purchased for five-cents, with all proceeds going to American Forests (the nation’s oldest non-profit citizens conservation organization) to plant trees to restore forests and help reduce CO2 emission.

Now it’s one year since the program began and IKEA is overwhelmed with the stunning results; more than 92% of their customers said no more plastic bags! Expectations were exceeded and IKEA learned their customers welcome the opportunity to find new ways to be environmentally responsible. This landmark program has now resulted in IKEA taking another step forward; as of October 1, 2008, IKEA will no longer offer plastic bags, and paper bags are not available in IKEA stores either. IKEA’s consumer call-to-action is to use only reusable bags.
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 plastic bags, and less than one 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 14 billion trees to produce 10 billion grocery bags.

“IKEA believes home is the most important place in the world. The success of this program truly demonstrates that our customers care deeply about our global home and that we can all work together to be sustainable and environmentally responsible,” said Pernille Spiers-Lopez, president, IKEA North America. “IKEA applauds its customers for being bold and courageous. Together, we have proven we can shift our behavior and make a notable environmental difference!”