B.C industry brings in comprehensive plan on plastic bags

September 25, 2008
Written by
Four of Canada's leading retail associations have endorsed a plan to significantly reduce the number of plastic bags distributed in British Columbia over the next five years.

The groups behind the initiative include the Retail Council of Canada (RCC), the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (CCGD), the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) and the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS).

The program includes commitments to a goal to reduce the use of plastic bags by 50 per cent in five years; consumer education initiatives to promote the use of reusable shopping bags; appropriate and meaningful incentives to encourage consumers to reduce plastic bag demand; and the provision of collection points for single-use plastic bags to be recycled where possible. It also includes annual monitoring and reporting to ensure progress is made.

"With an estimated 1.5 billion plastic bags distributed in B.C. each year, retailers are going to need help from our customers to meet this target," said Max Logan, B.C. Director, RCC. "Retailers can provide the alternatives, but ultimately its up to customers make the best choices."

The partners will work jointly to implement a practical, province-wide 'reduce, reuse and recycle' solution for plastic bags distributed in retail stores. This will ensure that British Columbians in all regions will enjoy similar benefits through this industry-led plastic bag stewardship program.

"Independent grocers are an integral part of B.C. communities and that's why we are participating in this co-operative initiative," said John Scott, President and CEO, CFIG "It will see less litter on neighbourhood streets and we look forward to working with all retailers, governments and consumers to make this happen."

"CCGD and our members believe it is our responsibility to our communities, our customers and the environment move forward with a sustainable plan to reduce and recycle the number of plastic bags being distributed in British Columbia," said Nick Jennery of the CCGD. "This plan builds on the programs already underway through the leadership of our member companies in offering collection points for the recycling of plastic bags in our stores in B.C. and offering reusable carry out bags to consumers."

"The B.C. government applauds the retail sector of British Columbia for taking a proactive approach to reducing the number of plastic bags that are distributed each year in B.C," said Barry Penner, B.C. Minister of
Environment. "Anything we can do to reduce the amount of garbage going into our landfills is a step in the right direction."

Ultimately, British Columbian customers will determine the success of the reduction initiative, making public outreach and consultation fundamental to its success. Participating associations will work closely with the Province, the Recycling Council of BC, and the Union of British Columbian Municipalities and its members to promote the agreement and encourage British Columbians to reduce, reuse and recycle their plastic bags.

Questions or comments? Email greenhouse@annexweb.com

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