Company : SpartanNash
Program category : Social Impact


The latest phase of SpartanNash’s “Planet vs. Plastics” initiative launched on Earth Day 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich., as an effort to address both plastic waste and community needs through an innovative recycling effort. This program was carried out in collaboration with Trex® and Home Repair Service – together, they built accessibility ramps for veterans’ homes using recycled decking boards.

The inspiration for this initiative came from SpartanNash’s decision to prioritize reducing the impact of plastic bags. To do so, the company partnered with Trex, a leader in composite decking, to develop and implement a process that ensures plastic bags collected at SpartanNash stores are recycled and given a new life as durable decking boards. 

SpartanNash is proud to be constructing five ramps this year – each of which requires more than 157,000 recycled plastic bags. The human impact of this work is incredible, and the project not only recycles materials but rebuilds lives.

Engagement with this initiative was widespread and extended across both SpartanNash Associates and store guests. Volunteers, including members of the SpartanNash Veterans Associate Resource Group and Home Repair Services, dedicated their time and skills to build these ramps, directly impacting the lives of veterans. Store guests contributed by recycling their plastic bags in store, actively participating in a sustainable cycle that benefits their community.


SpartanNash significantly contributed to the "Planet vs. Plastics" initiative by coordinating the collection of over 157,000 plastic bags per ramp. In partnership with Trex and Home Repair Services, the company recycled those bags into composite decking boards and build accessibility ramps for veterans’ homes, enhancing their mobility and quality of life. 

Additionally, SpartanNash Associates, alongside members of the SpartanNash Veterans Associate Resource Group, actively participated by volunteering to build ramps directly at veterans’ residences. The community engaged by donating plastic bags at SpartanNash store locations; this drove widespread community support and participation in this effort.


The "Planet vs. Plastics" initiative by SpartanNash aimed to achieve multiple objectives. One primary objective was to reduce environmental impact by recycling plastic shopping bags collected at SpartanNash stores into composite decking boards; this diverted substantial waste from landfills.

A second objective was to use the recycled materials to build accessibility ramps for veterans' homes, to significantly enhance their mobility and daily lives.

Another important objective was to drive active participation, and community engagement and awareness, among SpartanNash Associates, store guests and the community partners by engaging them in collecting plastic bags and assisting in constructing the ramps.

Finally, the program aimed to increase community awareness about the importance of recycling and sustainability while deepening knowledge of SpartanNash's commitment to social responsibility and environmental care.


The "Planet vs. Plastics" initiative was hugely successful and impactful, based on several measurable outcomes. 

First, the company had significant and positive environmental impact. By driving the successful recycling over 785,000 plastic bags to make five ramps, the company significantly reduced environmental waste, keeping these materials from landfills and instead using them productively.

Second, the program led to positive community impact. By constructing accessibility ramps, SpartanNash directly enhanced the mobility and quality of life for veterans within the Grand Rapids community. This tangible improvement in daily living for veterans like 81-year-old Lee Schubert and his wife Linda has been warmly received, with beneficiaries expressing profound gratitude.

Community engagement is a third measurable metric: by engaging hundreds of SpartanNash Associates and store guests in the recycling effort, the company fostered a strong community and company spirit, raising awareness about its sustainability practices. Further, the involvement of the SpartanNash Veterans Associate Resource Group and other volunteers in the ramp construction further deepened the community-oriented nature of the initiative.

Finally, the program generated significant media coverage; it was the focus of +20 stories with an audience of 449 million unique viewers, which broadened the reach and impact of the campaign. Importantly, the coverage not only educated the public about recycling and sustainability but showcased SpartanNash’s commitment to community service.


“The upcycling of plastic bags into accessible ramps for veterans with disabilities is a People First program that gives our nation's heroes the gift of mobility and the opportunity to more easily enjoy life outside of their homes," said SpartanNash CEO Tony Sarsam. "We are grateful to the Associates and shoppers in our stores who recycle their plastic grocery bags so that SpartanNash can make these kinds of donations possible."

Support Statement:

“Having a new ramp has enhanced me and my wife Linda’s mobility and made our daily lives much easier. I’m incredibly grateful and consider it life-changing,” said Lee Schubert, a veteran and recipient of an accessibility ramp.