- Wal-Mart Canada is expanding a plastic bag fee program beyond its current British Columbia location to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. All affected consumers will be required to pay a 5-cent fee for plastic bags or buy a reusable bag for 25 cents.
- Once the model penetrates these regions, along with British Columbia, 93% of Canadians will be subject to the fee, according to Plastics News. Wal-Mart will then bring the fee to the Atlantic Canada provinces.
- In the first three months of the initiative’s roll out in British Columbia, 19 million less single-use bags left the store than in that same time frame the previous year.
Wal-Mart Canada, with its 400 stores and roughly 500,000 daily customers, has the infrastructure to reach far. That 76% bag reduction in the first three months in just one province represented about 334,000 pounds of plastic—the weight of 120 small cars.
"While we’re making strides, we recognize the critical role our customers, suppliers, and our partners play in reducing waste," said Wal-Mart Canada Chief Operations Officer Lee Tappenden in a press release.
A handful of US municipalities have implemented plastic bag fees, a decision which sometimes stirs controversies over who has what rights and raises questions about whose pocket the money slips into. Dallas had a short-lived fee, brought down by bag manufacturers who said state law prohibits taxes on containers. The fee seems to be working in Washington, DC where in its first five years it funneled $10 million into the Anacostia River fund.
Some industry experts are holding out for a day when MRFs can handle plastic bags. For now, a few specialized converters are taking them in and making unique durable products with them.