Last year, Sobeys announced that they'd be removing all plastic bags from their check-outs, beginning in 2020. Now, that plan is in-action, as it’s the last week that customers will be able to get plastic protection for their groceries. Starting in February, all 255 stores across Canada will only sell paper and reusable carriers, and Sobeys plastic bags will be a thing of the past.

Instead of having the option to grab a piece of plastic while checking out, customers will be required to purchase a paper bag or a reusable tote, starting at 10 cents each.

For loose items, fruit and vegetables, the store will be introducing mesh carriers, which can either be reused by the customer or recycled in-store.

The move comes as part of the grocery giant's initiative to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly as a company. 

Michael Medline, President and CEO of Empire, explained, "So many of our customers and our employees have told us loud and clear — they want us to use less plastic — and we agree with them."

"This is a significant first step, but it's only a first step. We need to go further, and we will," Medline stated last year.

Sobeys, which is owned by Empire Company Ltd., believes the move will prevent 225 million single-use bags going into landfills each year. That’s more than 1,200 tonnes annually.

While the company will continue to sell paper bags for 10 cents, Sobeys hopes that customers will start to bring their own reusable ones instead.

New multi-use options will also be sold at tills, with prices starting at 25 cents. 

"This is a first step, and we plan to make meaningful progress every year to take plastic out of our stores and our products," said Medline.

The decision to phase out the plastic is in place at other stores within the Sobeys group.

FreshCo, Safeway, Foodland, IGA and Rachelle Béry locations will also begin making the change over the coming year, which will eventually take more than 800 million plastic bags out of circulation.

The company confirmed that the increased cost of removing plastic carriers would not affect the price of groceries.

This change won’t come as a shock to shoppers in Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island, as both regions officially banned plastic grocery carriers back in 2019.

These decisions are part of a country-wide push to reduce single-use waste after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan to remove all one-use plastic in Canada by 2021.

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