Loblaws backs off on bag fee - Macleans.ca

Loblaws backs off on bag fee

Loblaws has ended its bag fee in Atlantic Canada


Loblaws backs off on bag feeThe environmental crusade against plastic shopping bags in this country began in earnest last year when Toronto established a bylaw forcing all local retailers to charge five cents per bag. Since then other cities have waded in—Fort McMurray, Alta., recently approved a full-scale ban—and some retailers, including Ikea and Home Depot, have implemented the Toronto fee country-wide. Yet any suggestion the end to giveaway bags would become a national trend appears to have fizzled. And now the biggest promoter of bag fees faces an awkward climb-down over obvious customer dissatisfaction.

On April 22—Earth Day, 2009—the country’s largest grocer, Loblaw Co. Ltd., implemented the five-cent bag fee in all its stores across Canada as part of a larger plan to burnish its “green” credentials. At the time, Loblaw senior vice-president of corporate affairs, Inge van den Berg, told Maclean’s the fee was a way of “incentivizing good habits. It’s a gentle reminder because I think customers really want to take the right action to protect the environment.”

But some shoppers aren’t so keen on being incentivized. This past December, Loblaw-owned stores in Atlantic Canada, including Atlantic Superstore and Dominion, temporarily waived the five-cent fee as a Christmas gift to customers. That change was recently made permanent; the bags are once again free. “The Atlantic region is unique,” says Julija Hunter, vice-president of public relations for Loblaw. “We are mindful of our business environment and the fact consumers have other options.”

While major competitor Sobeys mimicked Loblaw’s bag fee in Ontario and Quebec, it never implemented the charge anywhere else for competitive reasons. And so East Coast shoppers irritated at having to pay for bags appear to be choosing Sobeys over Atlantic Superstore. If the bag fee was born out of concern for the environment, its demise is due to unhappy customers and a concern for the bottom line.


Loblaws backs off on bag fee

  1. The people in the Maritimes are to be congratulated for forcing Loblaws to retract it's alleged environmentally friendly action. Would that the sheeple in the ROC act in the same way.

  2. Wow… how lazy are certain shoppers that they can't bring themselves to take along a reusable bag?

    Tens of millions of plastic bags end up in Canadian landfills each year because of people like that.

    Oh, and congrats to Zellers for introducing bag fees. I hope Loblaws brings theirs back.

  3. Lazy?
    Why won't they take them in the blue boxes then?

    We make an effort to shop at places that don't charge this rip off fee, small as it is, it's the principle.
    And besides, what do we pick up dog poo with when away from a shovel and pail lined with a plastic bag?
    Plastic doggie poo bags that you pay 40 cents each for?
    Plastic should be recycled in house, too bad it's so expensive currently, so we're sending all that plastic on barges to some third world country for workers to work in toxic environments for pennies a day … how is that being 'earth friendly again'?

  4. Lulu Lemon "incentivizes" its customers by offering a 50 cent discount for any shopper who choses not to take a bag. I wonder if the groceries could do the same in provinces that aren't so keen on the 5 cent charge and offer a 5 cent discount instead.

  5. I refuse to pay for bags.
    I shop where i get them included with my overpriced groceries or where retailers let me take their boxes away for them.
    Let the "green" "feel good" people bring their own bags.
    I need those bags for my dog and my garbage holder.
    Make them degradable. or go back to paper that does recycle.

  6. I live in Halifax and boycotted Altantic Superstores when this fee came in. We found a Sobey's store we love and switched our pharmacy from Superstore to them as well. We spend as much at Superstore in a year as we used to spend in a week.
    And they used to charge 5 Cents a bag but I noticed they only credit you 2 Cents. Do I hear the words "bags for profit"?

  7. I couldn't agree more with you guys. It's too much.