Loblaws to take bag fee national
Loblaws says it will leapfrog over Toronto’s plans to impose a 5 cent charge on plastic shopping bags next summer and start charging the fee at all Toronto stores on Jan. 12 and nationally in April.
But grocery industry officials insist the bag fee negotiated with the city isn’t a bid for profit.
“There’s no grab for cash in any of this,” said Nick Jennery, chief executive of the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, which argue Pandora Bracelet d for the fee rather than the city’s plan to force retailers to pay customers 10 cents to bring their own bags.
“The definition of success for this thing is to collect not one nickel. . We want people to bring their own bags into the store. That’s the objective.”
Both Loblaws and Sobeys have pledged that any excess revenue from the bag fee will be donated to environmental non profit causes. They did caution, however, that the charge won’t produce a gush of profits for environmental causes, because retailers will be spending heavily on publicity, staff training and checkout redesign to accommodate reusable bags.
Toronto officials say about 460 million plastic shopping bags are given out each year in Toronto, about half by grocery stores.
The stores get to keep the fee, so if city council approves the proposal next week they could collect an extra $23 million in revenue a year, all things being equal. But the assumption is that all things won’t be equal, as the grocers have promised to reduce plastic bag use by 70 per cent by 2012.
Neither Sobeys nor Loblaws would say what envi Pandora Bracelet ronmental causes they’ll support.
Councillor Brian Ashton said the city should have negotiated an agreement with the big stores to direct excess bag revenue to a foundation or trust fund jointly controlled by the stores and the city. That measure should be part of the motion Mayor David Miller presents, he added.
Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, who chairs the works committee, said discussion of where revenue might go misses the main point, which is that the city has wrung an agreement from industry to eliminate hundreds of millions of bags a year.
Inge van den Berg, vice president of Loblaws, said her company is redesigning the table behind the cashier to accommodate reusable bags.
Loblaws will take the pledge a step further by instituting a 5 cent bag charge in all its stores nationwide starting April 22 Earth Day, van den Berg said.
Loblaws has already sold 14 million of its reusable bags and estimates it will have reduced its use of plastic bags by 300 million by the end of t Pandora Bracelet he year.
An official of Metro (formerly Dominion) stores, which like Loblaws and Sobeys belongs to the council of grocery distributors, wouldn’t say what the company will do with extra revenue. She referred inquiries to the council.