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Instacart Bags: Everything Shoppers and Customers Should Know

Last updated: January 6, 2022
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vector graphic showing an instacart shopper loading groceries into instacart bags at checkout

If you’ve ever ordered Instacart, you’ve probably received your groceries in some form of a bag.

In some cases, you may have had to pay for the bags.

Or, perhaps your Instacart driver has delivered your groceries using their own insulated bags.

If you’re an Instacart driver or looking to sign up, maybe you’re interested in learning more about the policies for what bags to use at the store when you go to pick up an order.

Read on for a complete Instacart bags guide for both shoppers and customers, with information on the types of bags Instacart uses, Instacart’s bag policies, payment information, and bag suggestions.

What Types of Bags Does Instacart Use?

Instacart has four main types of bags that you can use to carry and deliver an Instacart grocery order.

These include:

  • Paper grocery bags
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Instacart insulated green food bags
  • Regular insulated bags

Paper Grocery Bags

Instacart shoppers have the option to select paper or plastic bags at the grocery store after they’ve shopped the order in their Instacart app.

Depending on what the store offers, the personal shopper may be able to request paper bags for their customer.

The store’s paper bag policy will apply to the order.

If they charge extra for paper bags, the customer will have to pay for the additional bag charge.

For this reason, it’s often a better choice to bring your own insulated Instacart bags as a shopper.

Plastic Grocery Bags

Most stores offer plastic grocery bags free of charge.

Some states are now implementing charges for using plastic or non-reusable bags.

Some states have banned plastic bags altogether, including:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Vermont

For stores with a plastic bag fee, the Instacart shopper should inform the customer and ask if they prefer their order to be bagged in plastic or brought in an insulated bag and unpacked at their address.

Instacart also outlines its policy on bag taxes on its help center site.

Insulated Food Bags

Instacart sells green insulated food bags to shoppers.

If you’re a shopper, you are required to use an insulated bag of some sort, whether you purchase the Instacart brand or another brand.

Instacart will provide you with four insulated bags from their approved vendor in the app.

They will take out the price for the bags from your balance in the shopper app when you reach your first $30 in orders.

If you don’t want to purchase Instacart’s insulated bags, you can opt to find an insulated bag on your own.

All Instacart shoppers use insulated bags to promote food safety by keeping food cold or hot and preventing tampering with groceries.

Shoppers can opt to purchase their insulated food bags from any retailer, as long as it is a closed thermal bag or a hard-shell cooler.

Once the Instacart shopper has finished shopping the order in the store, they’ll go to checkout and load the groceries into the insulated bags.

You should pair cold and hot items together in separate bags, so it’s essential to have more than one insulated bag.

Does Instacart Provide Shoppers With Bags?

Instacart does not provide shoppers with bags for free.

However, once you sign up as an Instacart shopper, you can opt in to receive four green Instacart thermal bags, which will be discounted from your first earnings.

If you don’t want to pay the fee for Instacart’s supplier, you can find your own insulated bags online and purchase those.

Do Instacart Shoppers Pay for Bags?

As mentioned previously, certain stores and states have plastic or paper bag fees, which need to be paid by the customer before the order can be processed.

Instacart outlines on their help center page that when you place an Instacart order as a customer, you agree to any taxes and fees that you would pay if you shopped in the store yourself, in person.

For this reason, you may incur costs such as:

  • Sales tax
  • Bag fees
  • Bottle deposit
  • Sugar-sweetened beverage fees
  • Healthy tax (San Francisco)

Shoppers do not pay for bags at the store.

The Instacart credit card that the shopper uses will already have enough money to pay for the order, plus any taxes or fees incurred.

After the order, the customer will receive a receipt with information on the prices of their items and the taxes incurred.

If you’re a customer ordering a pickup order on the app, you can pay for any bag fees at the store or bring your own bags to pick up your items.

How Do I Use Reusable Bags with Instacart?

If you’re a shopper working for Instacart and you’re wondering how to use your insulated and reusable bags to deliver groceries, here’s a guide:

  • Determine whether the customer wants to use plastic, paper, or no bags.
  • Load the groceries into the insulated bags after checkout at the store location.
  • Transport the groceries to the customer’s location.
  • If the groceries are in plastic or paper bags within the insulated bags, you can simply remove the bags and deliver them to the customer’s preferred spot.
  • If the customer requests no bags, ask the customer where they’d like you to leave them.
  • Help the customer unload the items until everything is safely delivered.

Once you finish, take your bags back to your car and repeat the process.

Does Having Insulated Bags Get You More Instacart Batches?

vector graphic showing an instacart shopper loading groceries into instacart bags at checkout

Since Instacart requires using an insulated bag or cooler to keep food safe, you must follow their policies.

Customers may notice and get upset if you opt not to use an insulated bag.

This occurrence can lead to a customer reporting your shopper to Instacart or leaving a bad review.

Since customers already expect top-quality service when they place an order, they also hope that their shopper will follow all of the Instacart policies.

Instacart won’t award more orders for simply following their rules.

Instacart selects drivers for active orders based on:

  • Shopper availability
  • Distance to the store
  • Customer address
  • The shopper’s reviews
  • Shopper Instacart scores (such as the number of deliveries accepted, etc.)

How Instacart Is Dealing with Plastic Bag Bans

In areas with plastic bag bans, Instacart shoppers can still bag orders.

If you’re a shopper, ask a store employee or the cashier if paper bags are available, and let the customer know if there will be a bag tax for using paper bags.

The store may also have its own policy for Instacart shoppers.

If the customer doesn’t want to pay for paper bags or no bags are available, you can simply add the items to your insulated bags and deliver the items to the customer’s address.

It will take longer to unload, but it’s better than not having any bag at all.

Be careful to bag the cold and hot items separately.

Best Bags to Buy for Instacart

Here are some of the best bags to buy for Instacart shopping.

NZ Home Food Delivery Bag

This bag is an affordable and large option for grocery orders and is commonly purchased by Instacart shoppers.

Some of its benefits include:

  • Dual zippers
  • Giant size
  • Weighs 3oz
  • Collapsable
  • Works for both cold and hot deliveries

2-Pack VENO Grocery Delivery Bags

These blue insulated grocery Instacart delivery bags by VENO are an excellent option for Instacart if you’re looking for a cheap bulk option.

Here are some of the benefits of this bag:

  • Cheapest option
  • Two bags for the price of one
  • Durable and heavy-woven
  • Flexible for various types of grocery orders

Ezek Reusable Grocery Insulated Bags

Ezek offers a two-pack of reusable grocery insulated bags in bright green to go with the Instacart shopper theme.

If you’re interested in these bags, here are some of their benefits:

  • Large capacity
  • The appearance of Instacart branded bags without the price
  • Top-quality zippers
  • Two for the price of one  

Wrapping Up

Instacart’s bag policies can be confusing when you start as a customer or an Instacart driver.

For that reason, we’ve compiled this guide to help you understand Instacart’s bag procedures, how to deliver food with an insulated bag, and what bag options are available for you.

As an Instacart shopper, it’s essential to offer the best possible customer service.

For that reason, investing in an insulated bag is a must.

If you’re a customer, make sure to keep updated on Instacart’s policies on their site.

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