Mayor Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition says it inspired Walmart Canada’s decision to eliminate single-use plastic bags from more than 400 retail stores across the country.
In a news release issued Tuesday, (Dec. 7), Walmart said the move will prevent nearly 750 million plastic bags from entering circulation each year. The changes apply to in-store purchases along with online grocery pickup and delivery orders. The policy is to take effect next April, which coincides with Earth Day.
Walmart locations in Surrey are already operating without plastic bags after the city became the first in Metro Vancouver to ban them in October. The city started work on the plastic bag bylaw last year.
Shortly after Walmart’s announcement, the Safe Surrey Coalition issued a news release saying McCallum’s leadership prompted Walmart to make the Canada-wide change.
“The Mayor’s office has now received word that the initiative has inspired nationwide change in corporate Canada,” the SSC wrote in the release.
“A December 7, 2021 letter received from Bryan MacLeod, Senior Manager of Public Affairs for Walmart Canada, confirms that ‘following the leadership in your municipality,’ the chain ‘will be eliminating single-use plastic shopping bags at all 400+ of our Canadian locations by Earth Day 2022.’”
We are humbled by recent correspondence sent by @WalmartCanada announcing the end of the company's use of plastic shopping bags.
— Safe Surrey Coalition (@safesurrey2018) December 9, 2021
Walmart manager of corporate affairs Stephanie Fusco told the Now-Leader Thursday that the plastic bag announcement follows a successful 10-store pilot project Walmart launched in August 2021.
“Many jurisdictions across the country, including Surrey, have been leaders in this area,” Fusco said.
The pilot received “overwhelmingly positive feedback” from customers and diverted nearly six-million plastic bags, the company noted.
“This type of change is a result of businesses and governments leading the way and committing to more regenerative actions.”
Walmart is one of the largest grocery retailers in the country to eliminate use of plastic bags.
In advance of the change, Walmart is to launch a customer awareness and education campaign to assist in the transition. Customers are to be encouraged to bring reusable options from home to carry out their purchases.