Proposed federal plan for major Canadian grocery chains is essential to eliminate plastic waste and pollution 

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Huron-Wendat – The federal government has launched an important public consultation on how to eliminate single-use plastic food packaging in Canada’s major grocery chains. The move follows a report from Environmental Defence that showed that nearly two-thirds of items on key supermarket shelves are packaged in plastics, including baby food and produce.

“Single-use plastic food packaging is bad for the environment and a risk to human health,” said Karen Wirsig, Senior Program Manager for Plastics at Environmental Defence. “Eliminating packaging where it isn’t necessary – for example on fruits and vegetables that have sturdy peels that act as a natural wrapper – and shifting to refillable packaging is good environmental policy and definitely the right move for grocery stores.”

Once the plan requirement is finalized, the major grocery chains will need to show how they are reducing single-use plastics and contributing to ending plastic pollution. They will be expected to aim to substantially increase convenient refill systems for bulk and unpackaged options for shoppers.

“Our recent audit of major grocery stores in Canada revealed just how severe the plastic packaging problem has become. The public response to this report showed us that Canadians very much share our frustration with the amount of throwaway plastic they face at the grocery store,” added Wirsig. “Grocery chains must plan to  shift their operations to rely much less on single-use plastics. Waste-free options will end up being cheaper in the long run – in both financial and environmental terms. The false narrative of ‘it’s either affordability or sustainability’ must end. The reality is that we can and should have both. We’re counting on these profitable grocery chains, who control 80 per cent of retail grocery sales, to figure this out without gouging Canadians in the process.”

Environmental Defence will submit comments to the federal government on the proposed Pollution Prevention Plan and encourages Canadians concerned about single-use plastic in the grocery store to have their say. The deadline for comment is August 30th.

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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Alex Ross, Environmental Defence,