Sobeys has announced they plan to remove all plastic bags from their 255 locations across Canada by the end of January 2020.
The grocery store chain based in Stellarton, N.S., made the announcement in a press release on Wednesday, calling it the first step in “removing unnecessary plastic from all retail.”
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“This is a first step, and we plan to make meaningful progress every year to take plastic out of our stores and our products,” stated Michael Medline, president and CEO of the chain’s parent, Empire Company Limited, in the release.
“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.”
The chain added that the move will take away 225 million plastic grocery bags from circulation every year.
While Mark Butler with the Ecology Action Centre applauded the company’s decision, saying they are showing great leadership, he notes that more still needs to be done.
“Retailers like Sobeys need to go further and look at their overall plastic use, they need to reduce the amount of plastic they’re using and don’t use it when they don’t have too,” said Butler.
“Plastic bags make up a relatively small proportion of the plastics we use.”
With many items at grocery stores sold in plastic from bread to meats to produce, Dave Sobey with Sobeys Atlantic acknowledged they still have more to do.
“There’s lots of opportunity you know, within grocery retail to remove unnecessary plastics,” Sobey said.
“We’re going to continue to work with our supplier partners, with our employees, with our customers,” he added.
WATCH: Halifax one step closer to plastic bag ban with draft bylaw on the way
The retailer has also committed to launching programs to reduce plastic in other areas of the stores, including the introduction of reusable mesh produce bags in its produce aisles and incorporating additional reusable bag campaigns.
Both Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador have announced plans to move forward with a province-wide ban on plastic bags.
Halifax Regional Council passed a motion in January to have staff draft up a plastic bag ban bylaw. The draft bylaw is due by the end of the year.
According to the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, plastic bags are among the 10 most common items found during cleanups.
WATCH: Sobeys is removing plastic grocery store bags from its 255 stores by the end of January. As Kendra Slugoski reports, the shopping bags are just the beginning.
-With files from Alicia Draus.