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TORONTO -- Ontario shoppers now have another choice beside the usual paper or plastic grocery bags: The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. of Canada (A&P Canada) here has launched a reusable shopping bag. Made from 100 percent recycled material, the handheld, machine-washable foldable bag is being hailed by the retailer as "an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative" to plastic.
"We have been committed to reducing our impact on the environment for many years through our in-house plastic-recycling program," said A&P Canada v.p., marketing and advertising Doug Brummer in a statement. "By encouraging our customers to purchase this new reusable shopping bag and use it every time they shop, we believe we can reduce our total bag usage by 20 percent."
The 99-cent reusable bag accommodates a maximum of 50 pounds of groceries -- the equivalent of two or three standard plastic bags. "If our customers use this bag on a regular basis, we could see a total reduction in excess of 50 million plastic bags a year," added Brummer.
"We are very encouraged by A&P Canada's initiative to reduce one-way plastic bag usage, and hope that consumers will make the decision to choose a reusable shopping bag," noted Jo-Anne St. Godard, executive director of the Recycling Council of Ontario. "These kinds of corporate programs are key to diverting more waste from Ontario's landfills and resolving our litter issues."
The reusable bag is the latest plank in A&P Canada's existing recycling program, which has the goal of reducing waste from the plastic bags and film used in its stores. Since 1996 A&P, Dominion, Ultra Food & Drug and The Barn shoppers have been able to bring back their plastic bags and place them in recycling bins at stores across Ontario. As of today, Loeb locations are also offering the recycling program.
The used plastic bags collected at A&P stores are combined with other plastic films at store level and sold to companies that use the recycled plastic to make new bags containing post-consumer recycled film. A&P Canada expects to recycle about 900,000 pounds of plastic film, the equivalent of 60 million bags, this year.
The bag can be purchased at all A&P, Dominion, Ultra Food & Drug, The Barn, and Loeb stores throughout Ontario.
The average Ontario resident uses about 200 plastic bags per year, and more than 2.5 billion bags are in circulation in the province annually.
A&P Canada, a wholly owned subsidiary of Metro, Inc., operates more than 235 grocery stores under the A&P, Dominion, Ultra Food and Drug, The Barn, Loeb and Food Basics banners throughout the province of Ontario.