Paper or plastic?

Published 9:03 am Wednesday, June 16, 2010

FRANKLIN—When Farm Fresh opened in Franklin in March 2008, the store did not offer plastic bags for environmental reasons.

That’s changed.

Four weeks ago, at the request of customers, the store began offering plastic and reusable bags in addition to paper bags, said Haley Marconett, spokesperson for SuperValu, which owns 44 Farm Fresh stores in Richmond, Hampton Roads and Elizabeth City, N.C.

“At Farm Fresh, we take environmental issues seriously as well and are committed to responsible stewardship,” Marconett said.

Farm Fresh has a recycling program where customers can deposit used plastic grocery bags for recycling.

“Last year, Farm Fresh customers recycled more than 100,000 pounds of plastic into items such as composite park benches and decking,” she said.

When Farm Fresh eliminated plastic bags at its Smithfield store, Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors publicly commended the grocer.

Isle of Wight Supervisor Chairman Phil Bradshaw, who represents Carrsville, wasn’t happy to hear about the Franklin store’s decision to begin using plastic bags.

“I think that it’s a very bad move on their part,” Bradshaw said. “They should know of the farming and agricultural industry.”

The use of plastic bags has been an issue for cotton farmers, who say the bags, which get blown into the fields from trash cans or other ineffective disposal methods, get mixed with their cotton harvest. The plastic in the cotton cannot hold dyes that are used, thereby lowering the value of the bales.

Farm Fresh typically offers its customers a choice of paper, plastic or reusable bags at its other stores, Marconett said.

“Different shoppers have different preferences,” she said. “We are offering all three options.”