Kroger bags it ... with 159 million fewer plastic bags

The world of bagdom is getting increasingly complex. And contentious.

Not long ago, three leading plastic bag manufacturers filed suit against ChicoBag, which makes reusable bags, claiming that the company was making false and misleading claims about plastic bags. ChicoBag president Andy Keller said the manufacturers were just on the defensive because their product was "the poster child of unnecessary waste."

The industry claims that plastic bag recycling -- one way to reduce the waste -- is growing. But in the past, the main industry group has lumped statistics for plastic bag recycling in with "film" recycling, which includes the plastic-y stuff that's wrapped around pallets of food or other products, say. 

But a new sustainability report from Kroger might help shed some light. The report says that in 2010,  "improved bagging techniques and increased use of reusable bags saved an additional 159 million plastic bags. Kroger sold and provided customers with more than five million reusable bags, an average of 14,000 per day."

Of course, that brings up the new problem of too many reusable bags. As I wrote in an Earth Day story, some people are now saying that with all the freebies, they are awash in reusables, which is another kind of waste.