Loblaws to charge for bags, donate cash to charity

In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of plastic shopping bags, starting April 22, Loblaw corporate and participating franchise stores stopped pro­viding free plastic shopping bags to customers.

The company stated in an an­nouncement customers will be charged five cents for each requested plastic shopping bag. Loblaw hopes to meet a goal of diverting one billion plastic shopping bags from landfills by the end of 2009.

"We are encouraged by our customers’ support of reusable bag practices to reduce waste," said Galen G. Weston, exec­utive chairman of Loblaw Com­­­panies Limited.

It has tested various ap­proaches in an effort to identify best practices in reduc­ing plas­tic shopping bag use. The data revealed that its stores that have been charging a nominal fee for plastic bags distribute almost 55 per cent fewer bags per $1,000 in sales than those stores that provide plastic shop­ping bags for free. Loblaw stores that provide only a re­bate to reward the use of re­usable bags dis­tributed ap­proximately four per cent fewer plastic shopping bags.

Loblaw is working with WWF-Canada to further en­cour­age Canadians to demon­strate support of the envi­ron­ment. For the next three years, Lob­law will provide a cor­por­ate donation and partial pro­ceeds from the charge on plas­tic shopping bags from cor­por­ate stores totaling $3-million.

The remainder of the pro­ceeds from the fee on bags will be used to cover the cost of the Loblaw plastic shopping bag reduction program and be in­vested back in the business in price and customer service.

Many efforts are being tak­en to assist customers in this transition, from the Bring It re­minder sign campaign, in-store customer announcements, lim­it­ed time promotional offers on reusable bag options and im­portantly a new, 33 per cent larger and heavier gauge plastic shopping bag.

The new bag is now made with 15 per cent plastic waste material recovered from the manufacturing process and the thicker larger bag makes it stronger, allowing for repeat use and more items per bag.