The chain says the move, which will take effect by the end of January 2020, will remove 225 million plastic bags out of circulation at Sobeys’ 255 locations across Canada each year.
Sobeys will introduce paper bags in its stores to replace plastic, as well as in its other company-owned Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland and IGA stores.
“So many of our customers and our employees have told us loud and clear — they want us to use less plastic — and we agree with them,” said Michael Medline, president and CEO of Empire, in a release.
“This is a first step, and we plan to make meaningful progress every year to take plastic out of our stores and our products.”
To help customers with the transition from plastic, Sobeys will encourage the use of reusable bags. It will also introduce a line of reusable mesh produce bags made from recycled water bottles to provide customers with an alternative for their fresh produce.
As another incentive to ditch plastic, IGA stores on Montreal Island will launch a campaign in September to encourage reusable bag adoption by offering designated parking spots for customers who bring reusable bags to shop.