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BYOB: Sobeys to eliminate plastic bags at check stands in Canada starting Jan. 31

Sobeys estimates the move will eliminate 225 million plastic check stand bags every year.
Sobeys estimates the move will eliminate 225 million plastic check stand bags every year. Taryn Gibson / Global News

It’s a change six months in the making – all 255 Sobeys stores across Canada will switch from plastic to paper and reusable bags at check stands by the end of January.

A Regina store manager, Pamela Kuffner said news of the change has been well received by customers and cashiers at the south Albert Street location.

“We’ve sold over 3,000 reusable bags since October, and we’ve sold several totes as well. So the need for it is definitely here,” Kuffner said.

READ MORE: City of Regina survey finds only 28% of residents recycled the right material

The grocery store chain, based in Stellarton, N.S., made the elimination announcement in July 2019, calling it the first step in “removing unnecessary plastic from all retail.”

Without plastic bags, customers will either need to bring their own bags or purchase an option at the store.

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Store manager Pamela Kuffner shows off a 99 cent reusable bag option at the south Albert Street location in Regina.
Store manager Pamela Kuffner shows off a 99 cent reusable bag option at the south Albert Street location in Regina. Daniella Ponticelli / Global News

Shoppers will pay 10 cents per paper bag, while the variety of reusable bags range from 99 cents to over $10.

“There’s also the totes and insulated bags as well,” Kuffner said, adding shoppers can buy reusable mesh bags for produce and vegetables, with the eventual goal to eliminate plastic for that purpose as well.

READ MORE: ‘It just ends up in our waste system’: Plastic grocery bag ban officially launched in Devon, Alberta

Sobeys, which is owned by Empire Company Ltd., estimates the move will eliminate 225 million plastic check stand bags – just over 1,200 tonnes – every year.

Kuffner noted the company’s other banners – including Safeway, IGA, FreshCo and Thrifty Foods – will follow suit at a later date.