Walmart going green
Supermarket chain to start charging customers for plastic bags in February
Walmart Canada is going to start charging customers for plastic bags as part of its strategy for cutting the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills.
Beginning Feb. 9, the chain will charge five cents each for plastic bags, with reusable bags available for a discounted rate of 25 cents each.
The company said Tuesday the introduction of a small fee in other countries has helped Walmart reduce the number of plastic bags by more than half.
Walmart says some of the proceeds from the new charge will go toward supporting recycling initiatives for grocery bags and other thin plastic objects.
The company said it’s also going to improve in-store recycling and collection programs and work with suppliers to find ways of removing plastic from its packaging.
Attempts by The Guardian to speak with Walmart Canada’s media spokesperson were not successful.
Other supermarket chains in Canada have also attempted to help the environment by slapping a small fee on plastic bags, with mixed results, at least in Atlantic Canada.
Mark Boudreau, director of corporate affairs for Loblaw Atlantic, which operates Atlantic Superstore, said its stores have been charging five cents per plastic bag since 2007, except in Atlantic Canada.
“In Atlantic Canada, when it was introduced, it wasn’t really well received,’’ Boudreau told The Guardian on Tuesday. “And, at the time, none of our competitors were doing so (so it was scrapped).’’
While Superstore has continued to charge five cents per plastic bag across Canada since then, the experiment didn’t even last through 2007 in Atlantic Canada.
“We have a different client base here (with) a lot of older clients; an aging population.’’
Boudreau said Superstore has cut the number of plastic bags it produces by seven billion since 2009 and contributes about $1 million of those savings to the World Wildlife Federation to support initiatives such as shoreline cleanups.
It also operates a store in Halifax that doesn’t offer plastic bags as an option at all.
Shauna Selig, who handles corporate communications for Sobeys in Atlantic Canada, said there is no charge for plastic bags at its stores.
“We don’t charge for plastic bags and we do offer Green Bags for Life for 99 cents, and they are for life,’’ Selig said. “In the rare event that a bag’s life has reached its end, customers can bring it in and we will replace it free of charge.’’