Major Grocery Chain Discontinues Plastic Bags in Brampton

Published July 31, 2019 at 6:50 pm

Another grocery store is embracing green policies in Brampton.

Another grocery store is embracing green policies in Brampton.

Sobeys Inc. announced today (July 31) that it will remove plastic grocery bags from all Sobeys grocery stores by the end of January 2020. The change will take 225 million plastic grocery bags out of circulation at locations across Canada each year.

This is the first step in the grocery chain’s parent company plans for reducing plastic waste. 

“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, the President and CEO of Empire Limited. “This is the 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. This is a significant first step, but it’s only a first step. We need to go further, and we will.”

Sobeys is a whole owned subsidiary of Empire Company Limited. Starting with eliminating plastic grocery bags from Sobeys stores in 2020, the company will begin phasing out plastic grocery bags and introducing paper bags in all other owned stores including Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland and more.

While the plastic bags are phased out of each store, the retailer plans to launch programs to reduce plastics in other areas of the store, while also encourage customers to choose reusable bags that can be used repeatedly and returned for recycling:

  • In August, in the produce aisle, there will be a line reusable mesh produce bags made from recycled water bottles to provide customers with an alternative for their produce. The reusable mesh bags were launched in IGA in Quebec in June and received positive feedback from customers.
  • The company has started phasing unnecessary plastic from snacking tomatoes in its Sobeys Urban Fresh store locations in Toronto. Customers are provided with recyclable paper bags that they can use to carry their vegetables.
  • IGA stores on Montreal Island will launch a campaign in September 2019 to encourage reusable bag adoptions.

“It’s time for a change, and we will not stop innovating and bringing to market new ways to remove avoidable plastic from retail,” said Vittoria Varalli, the Vice President of Sustainability. “We are working with our industry partners and key stakeholders on eradicating plastics from the system. There are many factors to balance, like food waste and food safety when assessing the need for packaging in the grocery retail supply chain. It will take a collective effort to drive real, meaningful change for the future.”

Sobeys is also partnering with the student organization Enactus Canada on a community empowerment project accelerator. It challenges young Canadians to find innovative solutions to reduce avoidable plastics for grocery stores and consumers, while also encouraging behavioural change as it is related to preventable plastics.

What do you think of this move to reduce plastic waste?

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