New Brunswick

Sobeys urges customers to think reusable as bag ban approaches

Sobeys will offer paper bags in the wake of its plastic bag ban, but is urging customers towards reusables.

Chain will offer paper bags, but pushes reusable bags when plastic option is removed Jan. 31

The move is an effort to make the grocery chain more green and follows similar moves at other stores. (Ken Linton/CBC)

The days of the old-fashioned paper grocery bag will make a comeback in Sobeys stores across the province on Jan. 31, at least in the short term.

That's when the grocery giant stops offering plastic bags.

The move is an effort to make the grocery chain greener and follows similar moves at other stores owned by its parent company, Empire.

Violet MacLeod, a spokesperson for Sobeys, said initially stores will offer paper bags for customers as an alternative, but the company is really hoping reusable bags will become more commonplace.

"It takes 21 days to make a habit," said MacLeod. 

"Across our network I'm hoping, and I know we'll see it, our customers are going to have that at the top of their list, grocery bags, reusable bags."

The use of plastic bags has come under fire in recent years for the threat they pose to the environment, taking decades to break down.

They are also considered a major contributor to the addition of micro plastics into both freshwater and saltwater environments.

They have become far more difficult to recycle.  A CBC NB investigation found our landfills have tons of plastic bags stockpiled, with no one willing to recycle them.

Other New Brunswick retailers have stopped offering plastic bags altogether, like NB Liquor.  Chain stores like Walmart and Giant Tiger have started charging for plastic bags in an effort to cut down on their use.

MacLeod said Sobeys hopes to introduce other green initiatives to its stores, too.

While she couldn't elaborate, changes already introduced at their sister brand IGA in Quebec may provide some clues.

"They are piloting reusable containers," said MacLeod. 

"So customers in those regions can bring in their reusable containers ... and they can use that to pack produce in, they can [pack] deli meat in those and they can also do hot ready meals."

Sobeys said they use 225 million plastic bags every year.


  • A previous version of this story said Sobeys would be get rid of plastic bags on Jan 21. The actual date is Jan. 31
    Jan 12, 2020 12:30 PM AT

With files from Information Morning Moncton