Wal­mart go­ing green

Su­per­mar­ket chain to start charg­ing cus­tomers for plas­tic bags in Fe­bru­ary

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE PROVINCE - BY DAVE STE­WART With files by The Cana­dian Press dstew­art@the­guardian.pe.ca

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.’’

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