'Paper or Plastic' Saving Cash at Jewel

Baggers are being trained not to double-bag or use bags with handles

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    Yamini Chao
    Super market trolley, close-up

    "Paper or plastic?" You won't hear that at Jewel-Osco.

    The chain is among Supervalu-owned stores training baggers not to ask the ubiquitous question in an effort to use fewer bags and save money while doing it.

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    Baggers and cashiers are directed to avoid double-bagging, put more items in fewer bags and not to bag items with handles, such as milk or laundry detergent.

    These rules aren't hard and fast, though.

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    If a customer specifically asks for a paper bag, the store will accommodate them, Supervalu spokesman Mike Siemienas said. If not, baggers will defer to plastic.

    "This is not anything new, but it's something that we're focusing on," Siemienas said, "because at the end of the day groceries is a very competitive industry."

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    Saving money on the backend helps keep prices low, he said.

    The change, put in place more than a year ago, saved the company between $4 and $6 million. It also saved millions of bags.