Metro, Sobeys, Walmart Canada partner with non-profit to reduce single-use plastic waste

Retailers team up with the Circular Innovation Council
Jillian Morgan
Digital Editor
Jillian Morgan, female, digital editor for Canadian Grocer
single use plastic waste issue. fruits and vegetables in plastic bags
Reusable food container pilot to launch in Ottawa this year.

The Circular Innovation Council has launched a new initiative to reduce single-use plastic waste in collaboration with grocery retailers MetroSobeys and Walmart Canada.

Co-funded by participating grocery retailers with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada, the initiative kicks off with the development of a reusable food container pilot.

The pilot is expected to launch in Ottawa in mid-2024.

It will offer consumers the opportunity to purchase selected food products in reusable containers at participating grocery retailers and other food service locations within the pilot area.

Consumers will be able to return the reusable containers through a variety of avenues, including neighbourhood drop-off locations. Reusables.com will provide the smart return bins and will be able to track container movements through washing and distribution.

Ownership of the reusable containers will be shared between the grocery retailers and other food service pilot participants in the pilot area. 

Retailers will work collaboratively, sharing containers, ensuring proper sanitation and food safety requirements are met and organizing transportation and logistics.

Learnings from the Ottawa pilot will be used to develop and scale a variety of reuse programs across Canada.

READ: Eliminating plastics should not jeopardize food security

“Metro is proud to be part of this innovative pilot project, testing the use of reusable containers in our retail stores. This project aligns with our corporate objective to reduce single-use plastic waste. By developing an efficient reusable solution, we aim to offer our customers a more sustainable way to shop in our stores, without having to compromise the quality or safety of the products they purchase,” Joe Fusco, senior vice-president, Metro Operations said in a press release.

Sobeys parent company Empire Co. Ltd. said the grocer is exploring innovative ways to eliminate plastics from its supply chain.

 “Sobeys has a goal to make it easier to live plastic waste free,” stated Kristi Lalach, SVP, legal and sustainability, Empire. “Participating in the design of a program that would give customers a way to reuse containers from the deli and takeaway counters is a step in the right direction for our customers, our communities, and the environment.”

Walmart Canada echoed comments from Metro and Sobeys. 

“At Walmart Canada, we’re continually looking for opportunities to push the industry forward when it comes to innovative solutions around plastics reduction,” said John Bayliss, chief operations officer, Walmart Canada. “We’re proud to be part of this unique project that will help to introduce Canadian consumers to collaborative reuse models and is a major step in the right direction towards our packaging goals.”

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