Amount of plastic bags given to consumers dropping
Three years after a pair of pioneering Canadian towns banned Burberry Outlet Online the bags, the push to cut back on the longtime retail staple has gained momentum and the number taken home by Canadians has been significantly reduced Burberry Outlet Online .
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Canadians still carry home more than 55 million plastic shopping bags every week, according to estimates by Environment Canada.
For example, Metro Inc., one of Canada’s largest grocers, began charging five cents per bag in June 2009. A month afterward, the cha Burberry Outlet Online in reported a 50 per cent drop in demand for plastic bags.
Now, demand has dropped by 80 per cent.
“Five cents might not be a lot of money, but it seems to be enough to make people change their habits,” said Metro spokeswoman Marie Claude Bacon. “People were ready for that.”
Rod Muir of the Sierra Club said charging a mere nickel per bag has proven a surprisingly effective tool.
“I guess the moral of the story is it doesn’t take a lot,” he said.
“I think that there is a little bit of societal pressure.”
Bacon said Metro introduced the reusable bag to its stores in 2006, but didn’t see a noticeable drop in plastic bag usage until the fee was brought in.
Leaf Rapids, Man., and Huntingdon, Que., were two of the first municipalities to take action, banning plastic bags at the beginning of 2008.
Other jurisdictions, including Toronto, have since imposed a five cent charge per bag, although Mayor Rob Ford wants to scrap it.
Many clothing stores have also cut out the plastic in favour of paper bags.
Even China, which has been heavily criticized for its environmental practices, has banned retailers from handing out free plastic bags.
The bags, which are derived from petroleum or natural gas, can cause problems in sewer drains, end up in landfills or entangle marine life.
Still, some retailers in Canada remain resistant, while others have reverted to offering free plastic bags for fear of losing out to the competition.
Atlantic Superstore, a supermarket chain in the Maritimes, stopped charging for the bags late in 2009 after introducing a five cent fee months earlier.
The charge was originally eliminated to give consumers a break during the holiday season, but the Loblaw owned chain opted to keep the bags free because other retailers in the region don’t charge for them.
“We remain mindful of this business environment,” Julija Hunter of Loblaw said in a statement.
“None of our major competitors in the Atlantic have attempted to reduce plastic bag use with a charge system, while many of those same competitors have implemented a charge program in other regions.”