“So many of our customers and our employees have told us loud and clear — they want us to use less plastic — and we agree with them,” said Michael Medline, president and CEO of Empire. “This is a first step, and we plan to make meaningful progress every year to take plastic out of our stores and our products.
After Sobeys, the company will phase out plastic bags in its other banners including Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland and others.
The most immediate next step will be to remove plastic grocery bags from IGA stores on Montreal Island in Quebec. In September, IGA stores there will offer designated parking spots for customers who bring reusable bags.
Sobeys will also launch a campaign in September to encourage reusable bag adoption.
Other measures to reduce plastic include introducing reusable mesh bags made from recycled water bottles for use in the produce section.
And Sobeys is already providing recyclable paper bags in its Urban Fresh stores in Toronto to replace the plastic packaging of snacking tomatoes.
“It’s time for change, and we will not stop innovating and bringing to market new ways to remove avoidable plastic from retail,” said Vittoria Varalli, vice president, sustainability.
Sobeys is partnering with student organization Enactus Canada on a project to challenge young Canadians to find innovative solutions to reduce plastics for grocery retailers and Canadian consumers.