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Sobeys Ditching Plastic Bags In Grocery Stores By February 2020
Sobeys has announced that starting in February 2020, plastic bags will no longer be available in stores. In a news release, the company states they will be the first national grocery chain in Canada to eliminate plastic bags.
By: Aleksandra Sagan
Shoppers at Sobeys Inc. grocery stores will soon need to bring their own totes or lug their purchases home in paper bags as the chain moves to phase out plastic bags by February 2020.
Canadians go through hundreds of millions of single-use plastic bags at grocery stores each year, and the chains — most of which charge a nominal fee for plastic bags —are facing pressure from increasingly eco-conscious consumers to do more to eliminate their plastic-centric packaging.
Sobeys said it is making the move to phase out plastic bags as a response to calls from customers and employees to use less plastic. The retailer also committed to launch programs to reduce plastic in other areas of the stores.
“We really felt that the amount of avoidable plastic in grocery stores is shocking,” said Vittoria Varalli, the company’s vice-president of sustainability. The change will eliminate 225 million bags used annually at Sobeys 255 stores.
The company, which is owned by Stellarton, N.S.-based Empire Co. Ltd, will phase out plastic bags and introduce paper bags at its other banners soon after. Sobeys also operates Safeway, Thrifty Foods, IGA, Foodland, Freshco and Farm Boy. It boasts more than 1,500 stores across all its chains.
“The ultimate goal,” said Varalli, is to eliminate plastic bags from the produce aisle as well. It plans to introduce a line of reusable mesh alternatives made from recycled bottles in August.
Food companies have been on a mission to reduce plastic from their operations recently as consumers push for more sustainable practices. Some are taking initiatives to change ahead of the federal government’s announced ban on single-use plastics by 2021, which would force them to find non-plastic alternatives.
Last year, restaurants responded to pressure to eliminate plastic straws after a video showing someone removing a straw stuck up a turtle’s nose went viral.
Starbucks, A&W and other chains made promises to remove the item from their eateries, and some have already done so.