Sobeys to eliminate plastic grocery bags

Sobeys Inc. announced on Wednesday 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 Sobeys’ 255 locations across Canada each year, it said.

Michael Medline, president and CEO of Empire Co
Michael Medline
President and CEO of Empire Co., Sobey’s parent

“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, president and CEO of Empire Co. Ltd., parent company of Sobeys, in a news release.

“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. This is a significant first step, but it’s only a first step. We need to go further, and we will.”

Starting with eliminating plastic grocery bags from Sobeys stores in 2020, the company said it will quickly follow with phasing out plastic grocery bags and introducing paper bags in all other banners, including Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland and others. The most immediate next step the company will take will be to remove plastic grocery bags from IGA stores on Montreal Island in Quebec. IGA will also launch a campaign in September 2019 to encourage reusable bag adoption, it added.

“It’s time for change, and we will not stop innovating and bringing to market new ways to remove avoidable plastic from retail,” said Vittoria Varalli, 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.”

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