I live in Southeastern Idaho and we have a few bulk foods at our local grocery store, but most our bulk options are found at Winco. I love shopping there because it's cheaper and the options are better. I contacted them recently to see if I could bring my own cloth bags in the produce and bulk sections and if their computers/scales have the ability to subtract the tare. I was informed they have a policy that does not allow customers to use their own containers. The policy can be found at this link: http://wincofoods.com/winco-answers/can-i-use-my-own-containers-in-the-bulk-area/ Their argument is valid, but I would still like to exercise my hand at making this option available for me. What counter-arguments would you deliver? The only thing I can think of is that the customer's hands probably have more contaminants than the bags and the hands have more direct contact with the contents in the bulk bin than the bag. The bag has minimal secondary contact.
Winco offers incentives for customers to bring their own reusable grocery bag, but they discourage reusable bulk bags.
On a side note, I have also contacted my local grocery store with no response as of yet. I'm hopeful.
In that case, I simply don't bag produce. So yes, 8 apples, 6 pears, 4 tomatoes, 5 avocados etc go directly on the belt, and I place all the same items on the scale, I give the bagger a basket for the produce as it rolls down. Then at home I wash everything really well. My husband kind of hates that the heads of lettuce roll around, but in all the years I've been doing this, no cashier has ever said I couldn't. (You can bring clean cloth cotton napkins to put in your cart to soak up any water from misters.) I keep all same items together, and plop then on the scale myself to minimize hassles for the workers. I try to go to Farmer's Markets whenever I can, but not always possible. And I like the idea of reusing their bags- how would they know?
Not even for produce? Why would they care? I would do it anyway and see what response you get from a checker. It is unlikely that a cashier is going to refuse to serve you if your produce is in linen bags or whatever. I never bothered to ask anybody at Lucky's or Safeway, I just started using my linen bags and towels and the checkers don't even bat an eye. Sometimes they remove the food from the bags, sometimes they leave it in and weigh it with the bags. I don't "tare" anything, they do it the way they do it and I'm okay with it.
Obviously this won't work at a counter where you need a clerk to fill a container, but in a checkout line I don't see the problem. Instead of waiting for permission from these people, just start doing it and see what the response is. Most checkers just want to get you through the line. Use bags instead of jars so they don't flip out. If you use nylon bags, they aren't going to weigh that much more anyway.
What would happen if you filled your own lightweight bag, one that didn't need to be weighed first, with a bulk product you wanted to buy? Surely they would let you purchase it rather than throw it away, it couldn't go back into the bulk bin.