Sobey’s move to eliminate plastic bags will accelerate climate change and defies science

3 August 2019

TORONTO, Aug. 02, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The move announced by Sobeys Inc. to replace plastic shopping bags in all Sobeys grocery stores with paper bags by the end of January 2020 will have a negative impact on the environment according to Canada’s plastic bag manufacturers.

A move away from plastic bags will accelerate climate change by significantly increasing carbon greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in a massive increase in the amount of bag waste that municipalities will have to manage, and will force consumers to purchase thicker plastic kitchen catcher bags to manage household and pet waste.

Craig Foster, spokesperson for the Canadian Plastic Bag Association (CPBA), said “Substituting paper bags for plastic bags perpetuates a myth that paper bags are better than plastic bags for the environment.”

According to many studies, plastic shopping bags are less than 1% of the waste stream and are highly reused and recycled by Canadians, who understand that there is a need for a multi-purpose, multi-use bags like plastic shopping bags. 

Foster adds, “Plastic bags have one of the higher recycling rates of all plastic products at around 30% nationally. Very few empty bags end up in landfill. They are not even single-use. Bag reuse rates are very high across Canada. In Quebec, close to 80% of all plastic bags distributed are reused two or more times.”

But what is really confounding and should worry all Canadians is that 90% of all plastic grocery bags are made in Canada so Sobeys move to eliminate plastic bags means lost jobs for Canadians. 

Most concerning to the industry is that Sobeys is not following the science. 

“Clearly we have failed as an industry to educate key players like Sobeys who would not want to be accused of greenwashing,” Foster stated. “Every scientific study on bags that has been conducted over the past two decades concludes that plastic bags – not paper bags - are the best environmental option. In fact, the recent Quebec government Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) found that paper bags were among the worst options environmentally.”

The governments of the United Kingdom, Denmark and the Province of Quebec have recently all undertaken LCA scientific studies of plastic shopping bags comparing their environmental impact and global warming potential to all other bags on the market. Each of these LCA independently reached the same scientific conclusion, namely that the conventional thin plastic bag is the best bag environmentally because it has the lowest carbon footprint and the lowest global warming potential.

The government studies also point out that the alternatives to replace the thin bags are not better for the environment. In addition to the fact that reusable bags are not recyclable in Canada, the LCA provide scientific evidence that reusable bags have to be reused many times to equal the environmental impact of the thin plastic shopping bag used just once. The Quebec LCA found that non-woven polypropylene bags like the Sobeys reusable have to be reused 11 to 59 times to a plastic shopping bag used just once.

For more information on plastic bags facts and fallacies, go to: and



The Canadian Plastic Bag Association represents manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of plastic shopping bags in Canada.

Craig FosterCPBA Spokesperson(604)