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In the wake of a successful pilot in Toronto, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. will implement a program at all of its corporate and participating franchise stores to charge 5 cents for plastic shopping bags. The initiative, which rolls out on April 22, the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the Canadian grocer’s PC G.R.E.E.N products, aims to reduce plastic shopping bag use and will support Loblaw's plan to divert 1 billion plastic shopping bags from landfills by the end of this year.
Research conducted for the company by Leger Marketing last month found that 81 percent of Canadians back Loblaw's pay-for-plastic-shopping-bags program.
“Loblaw has invested and tested various approaches in an effort to identify best practices in reducing plastic shopping bag use,” said Loblaw SVP, Marketing Craig Hutchison. “Our research reinforced that we should employ a combination of tactics to educate and remind customers, but it is clear that a charge-for-bag strategy is the key driver behind significantly reducing plastic shopping bag use and that a majority of Canadians support this approach."
Loblaw data showed that its stores that charge a nominal fee for plastic bags distribute almost 55 percent fewer bags per $1,000 sales than those stores that provide free plastic shopping bags, while Loblaw stores that provide a rebate to reward the use of reusable bags distributed only about four percent fewer plastic shopping bags.
Loblaw's pilot program results confirmed these results: Stores involved in the pilot, which launched Jan. 12 in Toronto, distributed about 75 percent fewer plastic shopping bags per $1,000 sales.
Late last week, Loblaw customers started noticing "Bring it" external and in-store reminders signage. Furthermore, in the week leading up to the official rollout, the grocer will offer limited-time promotions on select reusable bag options, to ensure that a range of affordable and simple bag alternatives are available.
Among the items that will be available to shoppers over the next couple of months are two sizes of the PC G.R.E.E.N. Reusable Shopping Bag; the PC G.R.E.E.N. Box, which has been designed to fit store shopping carts and can hold up to the equivalent of three to five grocery bags; the PC G.R.E.E.N SHOPPING BAG TO GO, which folds up into a convenient purse-sized pouch; the foldable PC G.R.E.E.N Shopping Trolley; the PC G.R.E.E.N Stow Away Shopping Bag on Wheels, which collapses into an easy-to-store pouch; and the PC G.R.E.E.N Folding Basket, featuring a collapsible aluminum frame that allows it to fold up easily.
Also, to help support environmental and sustainability goals, Loblaw is involved in a multiyear partnership with WWF-Canada, to which the grocer will contribute partial proceeds from the charge on plastic shopping bags from corporate stores, in support of the organization's conservation efforts.
The rest of the funds raised by the bag charge will be used to cover the cost of the plastic shopping bag reduction program, and invested back in the business in price and customer service, according to the company.
Brampton, Ontario-based Loblaw, a subsidiary of George Weston Limited, is Canada's largest food distributor and a major provider of drug store, general merchandise and financial products and services, employing over 139,000 full-time and part-time associates.