Calgary Co-op eliminating single-use plastic bags

A Calgary grocer is ready to pull the plug on single-use plastic bags in the new year.

By replacing plastic shopping bags with 100 per cent biodegradable ones and a bring-your-own-bag incentive program, Calgary Co-op intends to phase out the single-use plastic bags from food store locations by Jan. 1.

The company removed conventional plastic bags from its liquor stores and gas stations shortly after a successful launch of 10 cent biodegradable bags.

“We’ve found that a majority of the items being carried out of our stores is through the compostable bags, so we’re seeing a steady decline in those plastic bags being sold in our stores,” said Sage Pullen McIntosh, Calgary Co-op spokeswoman.

Calgary Co-op is following a trend in the food industry to phase out plastic bags and improve its environmental footprint. In July, Sobeys Inc. became Canada’s first national grocery chain to promise to eliminate plastic bags by January. The 225 Sobeys-owned locations in Canada will swap plastic for paper and reusable bags.

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, said the change isn’t a surprise given grocers and several provincial governments alike are working toward eliminating plastic bags. 

“P.E.I. did it first last year, both Nova Scotia and Manitoba have announced that they would phase out plastic bags as well . . . I expect other provinces to follow suit, so the company is just trying to get ahead,” said Charlebois.

Surveys have shown that five to seven per cent of Canadian consumers are likely to be annoyed by a change in shopping bags, according to Charlebois. He doesn’t expect the swap to affect Co-op’s customer base because of strong member loyalty.

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