Sobeys Inc. has announced that it will remove plastic grocery bags from all of its grocery stores by the end of January 2020. The retailer says it is the first national grocer to take this step, and that the move will eliminate 225 million plastic grocery bags annually from circulation at 225 locations across Canada.
The move is the first step in a larger campaign to remove all unnecessary plastic from retail. After this phase is complete, Sobeys plans to follow up by phasing out plastic grocery bags and introducing paper bags in all of its other banners, including Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland and others.
The most immediate next step for Sobeys will be to remove plastic grocery bags from IGA stores on Montreal Island in Quebec. IGA will also launch a campaign this September to encourage reusable bag adoption.
“So many of our customers and our employees have told us loud and clear -- they want us to use less plastic -- and we agree with them,” said Michael Medline, Empire president and CEO. “This is a first step, and we plan to make meaningful progress every year to take plastic out of our stores and our products. We decided to act now instead of taking years to study and only make long-term commitments. We’re taking action now, making a tangible difference today and into the future.”
The Sobeys announcement follows Prince Edward Island’s ban on plastic bags, announced on Canada Day, reports CBC News.
Whole Foods, which has stores in Ontario and British Columbia, eliminated plastic bags at checkouts in 2008, and earlier this year it announced a plan to reduce plastic use, including getting rid of plastic straws and shifting to smaller plastic produce bags.
In 2009 Loblaw adopted a policy of charging for plastic bags. CBC reports the move eliminated nearly 12 billion plastic bags from Loblaw stores.