Walmart Canada will eliminate single-use plastic bags from its more than 400 locations by April 2022, a move the retailer says will prevent nearly 750 million plastic bags from entering circulation each year.
The company said on Tuesday afternoon that the ban on single-use plastic bags will be phased in over the next five months, with the goal of eliminating the products at all locations by Earth Day 2022, which falls on April 22. The ban will apply to in-store purchases as well as online grocery pick-up and delivery orders.
Many chains are ahead of Walmart in eliminating single-use plastic bags. Sobeys, which is owned by Empire Ltd., removed plastic grocery bags from all its grocery stores in Jan. 2020. The company said at the time that this resulted in taking 225 million bags out of circulation per year.
The change at Walmart comes as the federal government looks to eliminate single-use plastics in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government first proposed a ban on single-use plastic items, including bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings and cutlery, in Oct. 2020. The government said at the time that it would finalize regulation by the end of 2021.
Walmart Canada had first rolled out a pilot program testing the elimination of plastic shopping bags at 10 locations in August of this year. The company said it received "overwhelmingly positive" feedback from customers and associates through the pilot, and eliminated the use of nearly 6 million plastic bags.
"Participating in this pilot has been such a positive experience for my team, especially since we know firsthand how many single-use plastic bags we typically go through each week," Kevin Oakley, the store manager at a Walmart location in Guelph, ON., said in a statement.
"Ending the use of single-use plastic bags at checkout means Walmart customers and associates are helping to make a positive impact on the environment every single day.”
In Canada, up to 15 billion plastic bags are used each year, according to the federal government.
Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.