September 12, 2008 09:53 ET

Retailers in the Sault Ste. Marie Take Action to Reduce Plastic Shopping Bag Waste

SAULT STE. MARIE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 12, 2008) - On September 12, more than 50 merchants and organizations in the Sault, will begin doing their part to reduce plastic bag waste by participating in a six month pilot project aimed at promoting reusable shopping bags. The project, lead by the Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) and funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, is implemented through a partnership with the City of Sault Ste. Marie and its local retailers. Dubbed The Shopper Loyalty Program, the program's objective is to reduce the number of plastic bags distributed in stores by encouraging shoppers to invest in and continue the use of, reusable bags. All participating retailers will be offering customers a reusable bag either for purchase or for free. What is special about the program is that the stores will also offer special incentives and rewards to encourage customers to remember to bring the bags back with them to the store.

"We are so pleased that more than 50 retailers have joined the project from national chains, to independents and tenants in the local mall," said Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director of RCO. "The key to this project is that each of these retailers, no matter what size or type, have agreed to offer a reusable option to their customers, with a unique incentive to reward their customers who bring that bag back. It is our hope that if the pilot proves successful, other communities in Ontario will take the same approach."

"The City of Sault Ste Marie is committed to reducing its waste," says City Councilor Steve Butland. "This initiative has been fully embraced by our retailers and residents and we are proud to be the leading municipality in solving the issues of plastic bag waste."

The pilot project is part of a larger initiative that was lead and launched by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment in April 2007. Government convened a task force made up of industry organizations and the RCO, under a voluntary agreement to reduce the number of plastic bags
distributed to shoppers by 50% by 2012. Through statistics gathered by this task force, it is estimated that more than 4 billion plastic bags are distributed to Ontarians every year.

"It's exactly this kind of grass-roots initiative that will help us reduce the number of plastic bags we use," said Environment Minister John Gerretsen. "Congratulations to the RCO, the participating retailers and the people of Sault Ste. Marie for taking on this pilot project."

The pilot project will run from September 2008 to February 2009. Performance of the test pilot program will be measured in a number of ways. Results will include the number of reusable bags sold, the reduction in the distribution of single use plastic shopping bags and the effectiveness of incentives to remind shoppers to bring their reusable bags back to the store for reuse. Results will be tallied in a final report which will be posted by the RCO in the spring of 2009.

Contact Information

  • Recycling Council of Ontario
    Jo-Anne St. Godard
    Executive Director
    (905) 586-5866
    Sarah Mills
    (416) 560-8045