Wal-Mart Canada Corp. is extending plastic bag fees to discourage use of single-use bags in more Canadian provinces.
The Mississauga, Ontario-based retailer began its bag fee program in British Columbia on Feb. 9 and in May will roll it out eastward to include Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Including British Columbia, those provinces account for 93 percent of Canada's population of 35.2 million.
The Atlantic Canada provinces will be added in the coming months, the company said April 28.
Wal-Mart Canada said 19 million fewer single-use bags were handed out in the three months following the British Columbia program, compared to the same period a year earlier. That represented a 76 percent reduction, amounting to about 334,000 pounds of plastic — about the weight of 120 small cars.
Wal-Mart operates about 400 stores in Canada, with about 500,000 daily customers. Wal-Mart stores in the United States tend to follow local regulations on single-use plastic bags.
Wal-Mart Canada will give consumers the option of paying a 5-cent fee for plastic bags or they can buy a reusable bag for 25 cents. The plastic content in single-use bags has been boosted 25 percent so consumers don't need to double-bag their purchases.
“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 news release.