In an attempt to promote the use of reusable bags and ultimately eliminate plastic film from landfills, Walmart Canada announced Monday that beginning Feb. 9, it will stop providing free plastic bags to customers, according to a press release. Instead, the company has planned to sell reusable bags at a discounted rate of 25 cents and will continue to offer plastic bags for five cents per bag to customers who request them.
“We recognize we are asking our customers to change their shopping practices, but we strongly believe that removing plastic film from our waste stream is imperative to reaching our goal of zero waste and will encourage our customers to broaden their already existing waste-reduction efforts," said Lee Tappenden, CEO at Walmart Canada, according to a press release.
Tappenden cited that similar programs in Canada have been met with success and that the introduction of small fees in other countries has helped Walmart reduce the number of plastic bags by over 50 percent. The megastore also said it has planned to improve its in-store recycling and collection programs and that it is working with suppliers to find new ways of removing plastic from its packaging processes.
Retail analyst Doug Stephens dubbed Walmart’s move as a “monumental branding decision,” CBC News reported.
"There is no question they are late to the table with this. It's been many years now that companies have been charging for bags or made the decision not to charge," Stephens told CBC News. "If Walmart does indeed want to contribute money back to reducing its environmental footprint and helping the environment then I suppose that's a good thing.”
The company has planned to roll out the new policy progressively across Walmart stores in Canada over the following months, beginning Feb. 9 in British Columbia.