Paper bags help cut costs at commissary

13 May 2005 | Cpl. K. A. Thompson

In an effort to cut back on supply costs, the Defense Commissary Agency is asking patrons to take groceries home in paper instead of plastic bags.

The Parris Island Commissary is joining in on the “just say no to double bagging and yes to paper” campaign.

We would like to see a switch from plastic to paper… and a stop to double bagging, which obviously doubles the price of bags to the agency,” said Antonio A. Matthias, store administrator, PI commissary.

Both paper and plastic will continue to be offered as a choice to shoppers, and there will be no extra charge for either type of bag, according to Matthias.

“Paper holds more and plastic has handles, so there are always some who prefer one over the other,” Matthias said. “It’s still up to the customer. We are just trying to control costs and need customer’s cooperation. DeCA would (also) like to see double bagging stopped.”

With more than 92 million customer transactions per year, commissaries spend nearly $20 million on grocery bags, according to DeCA. Due to the rise in oil prices, which affects the cost of manufacturing, the cost of plastic bags has risen more than 30 percent in the past two years.

The commissary is a taxpayerfunded military benefit selling groceries at cost, according to Matthias. A five percent surcharge mandated by Congress helps pay the cost of renovations and building new commissaries. Customers can help DeCA control costs and continue to save money themselves by switching to paper bags and eliminating double bags, according to DeCA.

“Shoppers save an average of 30 percent or more over retail grocery stores by using the commissary,” Matthias said. “A family of four can save $2,700 per year using the commissary regularly for grocery needs. A single service member can save about $700 annually by shopping at the commissary for toiletries, vitamins, food and other needs.”

Shoppers can also help save money by reusing bags or using cloth bags, which are available for purchase. Shoppers may bring bags in for their own personal use. However, due to health concerns, it is not advised to recycle customer bags for other customers, according to Matthias.

“It is up to the customer,” Matthias said. “We can only say that plastic costs more than paper and double bagging costs more than single bagging. Obviously reusing your own bags or using cloth or mesh bags is more helpful to controlling commissary costs, and reusing your own bags or cloth bags is also more environmentally friendly.”

In order to help consumers and the commissary save money, shoppers should be willing to use paper bags, according to Karla Zuniga, Laurel Bay resident.

“I prefer paper because that way we can save money,” Zuniga said. “I don’t like paper bags, but if we have the choice to save money then we should use paper bags. It’s for the military families.”

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