Kroger Executive Vice President Mike Donnelly said the decision aligns with the company’s commitment to making a positive social impact.
"We listen very closely to our customers and our communities, and we agree with their growing concerns," Donnelly said in a news release.
Kroger, the nation's largest grocery chain operates 2,779 stores in 35 states and orders about 6 billion bags each year, according to The Associated Press.
The chain joins the growing list of companies implementing waste-reduction initiatives. Disney, Starbucks, Marriott and McDonald’s are getting rid of plastic straws. Dunkin’ Donuts is phasing out polystyrene foam cups by 2020, and Ikea will eliminate single-use plastic products from its shelves by 2020.
McMullen said Kroger's move to nix plastic correlates with the company’s “Zero Hunger | Zero Waste commitment” -- a goal to divert waste from landfills and donate food to hungry families.
Kroger-owned QFC in Seattle will be the first to make the transition; plastic bags are expected to be eliminated there by 2019.
The grocery chain has also been redesigned milk jugs in an effort to use less plastic, CNN reported. It started using the new container in about half of its dairy products last year.