By Joseph Bennett

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Demanding Change from Grocery Giants and the Plastic Reduction Challenge

Categories : Recent News

The Canadian government has introduced a significant plan aimed at reducing plastic packaging in major grocery retailers and promoting the use of bulk and refillable containers, marking a substantial step towards addressing plastic waste and single-use packaging.

Recent research, as of April 2023 (Left Holding the Bag, Environmental Defence), reveals that approximately two-thirds of groceries and products in Canadian grocery stores are packaged in plastic. 

This includes items like baby food and fresh fruits and vegetables, often sold in plastic containers or bags, sometimes even at a lower cost than unpackaged produce.

Here are the key components of the proposed requirements:

  • Scope – These requirements will apply to major grocery retailers with annual sales exceeding $4 billion.
  • Targets for Fresh Produce – Retailers must aim to sell 75% of fresh fruits and vegetables without plastic packaging or in unpackaged form by 2026. This target increases to 95% by 2028.
  • Targets for Other Products – Major grocery stores must offer 10% of all other store products in reusable, refillable packaging by 2026. This target will be raised to 25% by 2030.

It’s important to note that major grocery retailers collectively account for 80% of all annual grocery sales in Canada. They also often carry their own store brands. 

Therefore, this plan is poised to have a substantial impact on reducing single-use plastic packaging.

In conjunction with stringent transparency requirements and regulations to restrict and ban plastic, this initiative has the potential to revolutionize the adoption of reusable packaging on a broader scale.

Canada would be aligning itself with other countries that have already taken similar steps. For instance, France has a law mandating the sale of unpackaged produce, which is expected to prevent the use of 1 billion pieces of plastic annually. Spain and other EU countries are also following France’s lead.

If you support this action, you can convey your endorsement to the federal government by sending a brief message to plastiques-plastics@ec.gc.ca. 

Let them know that you are in favor of major grocery retailers reducing plastic packaging, promoting the sale of unpackaged fruits and vegetables, and scaling up the use of refillable, reusable packaging for grocery products. Your input can contribute to the advancement of sustainable practices and the reduction of plastic waste in Canada.