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Loblaw to Slash Plastic Shopping Bag Use

Loblaw offers various options to plastic bags.
To mark the 20th anniversary of its PC GREEN products and its continuing commitment to helping the environment, Loblaw Cos., Ltd. said last week that all of its corporate and participating franchise stores across Canada will no longer provide free plastic shopping bags at checkout, effective that effective Earth Day 2009 (April 22, 2009).

The grocer will keep encouraging customers to use alternatives to plastic bags, improve its affordable reusable bag options, and charge five cents per plastic shopping bag, when they're requested by shoppers.

"As Canada's largest grocery retailer, we have a history of taking an active role to help reduce waste in our communities," said Loblaw executive chairman Galen G. Weston. "We believe this important move will inspire and help Canadians to more fully embrace reusable bag practices, and it represents the next natural step forward as we continue to acknowledge and respond to Canadians' desire to support environmental initiatives."

Loblaw estimates that this move will lead to a 55 percent decrease in the number of plastic shopping bags it distributes, and help to eliminate 1 billion plastic shopping bags from landfills in 2009. Canadians now use about 55 million plastic bags weekly.

The operation of five bagless stores, as well as data from stores that already charge for plastic shopping bags, persuaded the grocer that "providing a variety of affordable reusable bag options, combined with charging a nominal fee for plastic shopping bags, are primary drivers in changing consumer behavior."

In Toronto, this move comes in advance of a Dec. 1 bylaw decision by the City Council recommending the same five-cent charge per plastic retail shopping bag when requested by customers. Pending approval, Toronto will become the pilot for the new program, starting Jan. 12, 2009.

Most of the proceeds from the sale of plastic shopping bags will be used to cover the cost of the Loblaw plastic bag reduction program. Partial proceeds from Loblaw corporate stores will go to environmental charities/groups.

Loblaw currently offers PC GREEN Reusable Shopping Bag, Shopping Trolleys, Stow Away Shopping Bags on Wheels, and Folding Baskets, as well as the GREEN Box, which fits in store shopping carts and can hold up to the equivalent of three to five grocery bags.

In those municipalities that don't have recycling services for plastic shopping bags, Loblaw will continue to offer recycling services at its stores.

Loblaw, Canada's largest food distributor and a leading provider of drug store, general merchandise, and financial products and services, has more than 1,000 corporate and franchised stores across the country and over 140,000 full-time and part-time employees.
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