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Loblaw, Metro to eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags

Loblaw Cos. is nearing the finish line in its 15-year drive to end plastic shopping bag waste.

Canada’s largest supermarket operator said this week that it aims remove all single-use plastic bags from its corporate and franchised stores, pharmacies and PC Express online service nationwide by the end of the 2023 first quarter.

Brampton, Ontario-based Loblaw launched the initiative in 2007, when it implemented a pay-for-bag program to help reduce plastic waste. The company said the fee led to a 70% decline in the use of plastic bags in its stores, and shoppers have turned to the reusable bag and plastic bins as sustainable alternatives.

“As a purpose-led organization, committed to helping Canadians live life well, we are proud to be taking a significant step on such an important environmental issue,” Robert Sawyer, chief operating officer at Loblaw Cos., said in a statement. “Since 2007, our efforts to reduce the number of single-use plastic shopping bags leaving our stores have led to 13.8 billion fewer bags potentially going into landfill.”

METRO_INC__METRO_eliminates_single_use_plastic_shopping_bags_in.jpgIn phasing out single-use plastic shopping bags, Metro is urging customers to switch to reusable bags. (Photo courtesy of Metro)

As single-use plastic shopping bags are phased out systematically, province by province, customers will be supported with a variety of reusable alternatives, Loblaw added. Overall, Loblaw’s retail network encompasses 2,438 stores, including 545 corporate-owned supermarkets under more than a dozen banners, 551 franchised grocery stores and 1,342 Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix associate-owned drugstores.

Earlier this month, rival Canadian grocer Metro Inc. announced that all of its food and pharmacy retail banners will stop providing single-use plastic shopping bags effective Sept. 1. Customers will be encouraged to adopt reusable shopping bags as an alternative.

The Montreal-based retailer that the move is part of its 2022-26 corporate responsibility plan to reduce overpackaging and single-use plastic.

According to Marie-Claude Bacon, vice president of public affairs and communications at Metro, the elimination of single-use plastic shopping bags across retail operations will prevent the circulation of more than 330 million plastic bags annually.

“Our ambition is to optimize our packaging and printed materials by reducing their use, relying on optimal design, choosing environmentally responsible materials and facilitating their recovery and recycling,” Bacon stated. “These are the principles on which is based our Packaging and Printed Materials Management Policy, which Metro published in 2019.”

Metro added that, since the early 2010s, it has completed a range of packaging and printed optimization initiatives, and the company will continue to work toward achieving its policy targets. Metro’s retail base in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick includes about 950 food stores under the Metro, Metro Plus, Super C, Food Basics, Adonis, Marché Richelieu and Première Moisson banners as well as approximately 650 drugstores and pharmacies under the Jean Coutu, Brunet, Metro Pharmacy and Food Basics Pharmacy banners.

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