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Apple Stores to use paper, not plastic, bags in environmental push, report says

Like many retailers looking to go green, Apple reportedly plans to phase out its familiar plastic shopping bags in mid-April, with the drawstring design to be replaced by environmentally friendly paper bags made out of recycled materials.

Apple informed retail employees of the upcoming policy shift in an email on Monday, noting the change will be made effective on April 15, reports 9to5Mac. The letter was supposedly sent out by Ricialg Panlaqui who, according to her LinkedIn profile, works as a visual marketing project manager at Apple.

We're committed to leaving the world better than we found it. One bag at a time. So on April 15, we'll switch to paper shopping bags made from 80 percent recycled materials. These bags come in medium and large.

When customers are buying a product, ask if they need a bag. They may decide they don't. And you'll encourage them to be even more environmentally friendly.

If you still have plastic bags in stock, use them before you switch to the new paper bags.

The letter goes on to direct personnel to Apple's Environmental Responsibility webpage for further information.

Apple has long touted efforts to minimize — in some cases offset — its impact on the environment, from using renewable and safe materials in manufacturing to designing minimalist, eco-friendly packaging for its various device lineups. Considering the sheer number of products purchased at the average Apple Store, the current shopping bags, while beneficial to brand awareness, likely require huge amounts of plastic to produce. A greener alternative was introduced with the custom Apple Watch totes introduced last year, as seen above.

As Apple's eco-friendly efforts apply to packaging, the company last year purchased more than 36,000 acres of vulnerable forest in Maine and North Carolina, with an eye on using the land to harvest sustainable materials for paper production. To limit impact on the world's virgin fiber resources, Apple later expanded the forestry program to include 1 million acres of managed land in China.

Most recently, the company released its annual Supplier Responsibility report for 2016, which noted new energy efficiency programs prevented more than 13,800 metric tons of carbon emissions.