“We will be charging 5c per plastic bag (excluding cosmetic and pharmacy paper bags),” writes owner Coenraad Simpson in a communication to SPN. “We will promote the use of reusable bags to try and eliminate the use of plastic bags.”
All proceeds collected from this additional charge will go towards environmental programs.
According to a 2012 article by David Suzuki in the Huffington Post (“Stop Being a Bag Lady (or Bag Guy)”), Canadians use a lot of plastic, very little of which is recycled.
Canadians use between nine and 15 billion plastic bags a year, enough to circle the Earth more than 55 times, according to the Greener Footprints website. (U.S. citizens use about 100 billion a year!) Few plastic bags are recycled. Most are used for a short time to carry groceries, and then maybe re-used as garbage bags or to wrap dog poop before ending up in the landfill or the ocean. Some people argue that, because they make up about one per cent of the volume of waste in landfills, we shouldn’t worry. But one per cent of the massive amounts of what’s in landfills is a lot, especially since plastic doesn’t biodegrade.
According to the All About Bags website, environmental fees can be very effective. Retail-initiated programs, like the one to be implemented at Shoppers, “have been very effective in curtailing usage on a voluntary basis. Large grocery retailers report reductions in bag demand as high as 70%.” (2012 statistics.)
Retail-initiated plastic bag programs appear to be on the rise. CBC reported that as of 2018, Montreal is banning plastic bags altogether, and that Walmart started charging a nickel for plastic bags earlier this year. The money collected by Walmart will also be going towards environmental initiatives. And in November, Victoria’s Council backed the ban on single-use plastic bags and directed staff to look more closely at the issue.
“I hope the public supports our decision,” concludes Simpson.
So, Sooke, it’s over to you. What do you think of Shoppers Drug Mart initiative to charge a nickel for plastic bags, starting Saturday, April 23?
- Stop Being a Bag Lady (or Bag Guy)
- All About Bags (Canada)
- Montreal to ban plastic shopping bags as of 2018
- Walmart Canada plans to stop handing out free plastic bags
- Victoria council backs ban on single-use plastic bags, staff to study
- Shoppers Drug Mart