News

Sobeys plans to remove plastic bags from all stores in 2020

The Stellarton, N.S.-based national grocery chain said it will adopt paper and reusable bags at its 255 outlets across the country by January.


Print this page

August 7, 2019 by Canadian Plastics

Sobeys Inc. plans to become the first national grocery chain in Canada to remove all plastic bags from its stores.

In a news release, the Stellarton, N.S.-based company said it will adopt paper and reusable bags at its 255 outlets across the country by January. The chain said removing the bags from all of its locations will take 225 million plastic grocery bags out of circulation each year. The move to phase out plastic bags includes other stores within the Sobeys group, including FreshCo, Safeway, Foodland, IGA and Rachelle Béry locations.

Sobeys called it the first step in “removing unnecessary plastic from all retail.”

The grocer plans to adopt other methods to phase out plastic in stores. In August, Sobeys will bring in mesh produce bags made from recycled water bottles. The bags were first launched at IGAs in Quebec in June.

“This is a first step, and we plan to make meaningful progress every year to take plastic out of our stores and our products,” Michael Medline, president and CEO of the chain’s parent, Empire Company Limited, said in the release.

Sobey’s announcement drew a quick response from the Canadian Plastics Industry Association,

“Canada’s plastics industry agrees that plastic and other waste in the environment is unacceptable…[but] there is a role for multi-purpose, multi-use plastic grocery bags,” CPIA said.  “A move away from plastic bags will accelerate climate change by significantly increasing fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions; increase by 7-fold the amount of waste that municipalities will have to manage; and force consumers to purchase thicker plastic kitchen catcher bags to manage household and pet waste.”

CPIA also cautioned that “decisions that are made in the name of the environment must be based on science and fact, not emotion and misconceptions.” “The governments of the United Kingdom, Denmark and the Province of Quebec have recently all undertaken scientific studies – Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) – of plastic shopping bags comparing their environmental impact and global warming potential to all other bags on the market,” CPIA said. “Each of these LCA independently reached the same conclusion, namely that the conventional thin plastic bag is the best bag environmentally because it has the lowest carbon footprint and the lowest global warming potential.”

Sobey’s announcement comes just a few weeks after Prince Edward Island’s ban on plastic bags took effect on July 1. P.E.I. is the first province to ban single-use plastic bags.