October 1, 2007

Ontario RM joins retailers, industry group to divert plastic grocery bags

The regional municipality of Durham, east of Toronto, has become "Partners in Diversion" with A&P Canada, Loblaw Companies, Sobeys Ontario and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) to create an in-store recycling program for plastic bags.

The retailer-managed program, officially launched September 20, will offer customers the opportunity to return unwanted plastic bags to participating local grocery stores for recycling. Participating retailers will supply suitable in-store containers for the plastic bag recycling program, along with in-store displays for their reusable shopping bags.

The retailers also commit to ensuring that all returned plastic bags will be processed in an environmentally acceptable manner. The CPIA notes that plastic bags are a valuable resource that can be re-used many times and then recycled into new bags or plastic lumber products, such as patio furniture, decking, or waste receptacles.

Cliff Curtis, Durham Region's commissioner of works, said the region fully supports tht program and noted that, "Representatives from CPIA are playing their part in ensuring responsible and effective re-use and recycling options for plastics. I believe we can make a big difference in the number of plastic grocery bags that are currently piling up in landfills. By encouraging residents to return the plastic bags for recycling or, better yet, not use them in the first place by opting for re-usable shopping bags, we will have a big impact on keeping our environment cleaner and greener."

In a related development, Loblaw Companies recently introduced its PC Green plastic bag recycling program at Ontario stores in municipalities where curbside plastic bag recycling is not available, estimated to be more than half of Ontario municipalities. This initiative is expected to divert more than 51 million plastic bags from Ontario landfill in the program's first year by encouraging consumers to return plastic grocery bags to store and deposit them in new recycling receptacles. The plastic bags will then be recycled into new usable plastic products.

PC Green plastic bag recycling receptacles have so far been placed in the entrance vestibule of 60 stores throughout Ontario, with additional stores set to launch the program in weeks and months to come. The program's test pilot suggests that receptacles will be filled at a rate of twice per week, translating into more than 16,000 plastic bags recycled per store per week.

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