Charlottetown Bulk Barn store part of new waste-free initiative

Officials with Bulk Barn say it’s a change customers have been waiting years for as it's a more environmentally friendly way to shop in bulk.

Customers invited to bring their own reusable containers, instead of using disposable plastic bags

Bulk Barn customers can now bring re-usable containers to the store. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Officials with Bulk Barn say it's a change customers have been waiting years for — a more environmentally friendly way to shop in bulk.

"We've seen an influx over the past few years of customers who are looking to make a change, and provide them with a waste-free shopping experience," said Jason Ofield, Executive Vice President, Store Operations, with Bulk Barn Foods Limited.

The Charlottetown store is one of 27 across Canada giving the Reusable Container Program a try, before it is launched nationwide in 2017.

New signage posted at participating Bulk Barn locations, outlining the steps involved with the new Reusable Container Program. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Fewer plastic bags, less waste

Customers are invited to bring in their own clean reusable containers, and have them weighed by staff at the cash register when they come in. The weight of each container is written on a sticker, and placed on the outside of the container.

Once the container has been filled with anything from spelt flour to sour candies, the weight of that container is deducted from the total for that item at the cash.

For customers like Myrna Kielly, this new option is a lot better than throwing out all those plastic bags.

Shopper Myrna Kielly said if customers can get used to bringing their own reusable bags for grocery shopping, they can get into the habit of bringing reusable containers for their bulk purchases, too. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

"I think that's an excellent idea," said Kielly. "I have quite a number of containers at home that are reusable and I would certainly bring them in."

Kielly has been a Bulk Barn shopper for at least a decade, for everything from dried fruit to chocolate. She doesn't believe customers will have a problem making the switch to bringing in their own containers.

"Not at all, I've gotten into the habit of bringing a shopping bag almost everywhere I go, so I'd be quite happy to do so."

New program is voluntary

Shopper Peter Williams said he loves being able to buy as little or as much flour or spices as he'd like, but using multiple bags for his purchases was starting to make him feel a little wasteful. He's hopeful other stores will follow suit.

Customer Peter Williams likes the idea of avoiding plastic bag waste, and hopes other retailers follow suit. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

"I think it's a good idea, any initiative to help get rid of plastic and waste that can't be reused I think is great."

The new program is voluntary, so customers will still be able to use those familiar clear plastic bags at their local Bulk Barn.