Sooke’s two largest grocery stores will move to eliminate the use of plastic bags as of Jan. 1.
The move comes as a result of Western Foods and Village Food Markets joining together to promote reusable, sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic bags.
“We talked about it (with Western Foods) and decided that we would do this together. That way neither store wouldn’t be criticized or gain advantage because of the move,” Wayne Kneeshaw, Village Food Markets manager, said.
“Of course there are going to be a few people who will be unhappy with the change, but the few voices we hear on social media don’t really represent the majority.”
Buz Merriam, the manager at Western Foods, agreed.
“In the store, we expect that we’ll get pretty much nothing but positive remarks. That was the case when we considered doing it earlier in the year,” Merriam said.
“We all have to do our part to help the environment. Wayne and I decided that we would do this together to make it happen in Sooke. We all have to do our part.”
The move comes as the District of Sooke has put a bylaw that would ban plastic bags in the community on hold.
That bylaw, passed in July, was not implemented after a similar bylaw in Victoria was set aside by the B.C. Court of Appeal.
The court ruled that the clear purpose of the Victoria bylaw was to protect the environment, and it required the approval of the province and was outside the sole purview of any municipality.
But Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps argued that the appeals court decision flies in the face of a principle previously held by the Supreme Court of Canada.
“If the decision is allowed to stand it can potentially be interpreted to severely limit the power of local governments. This is why the City of Victoria is seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada,” Helps said.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in 2020.
Despite the roadblocks encountered by local governments, many retailers have independently taken steps to limit the use of plastic bags.
For example, in August B.C. liquor stores made the choice to move to paper bags by March, a move that will remove 22 million plastic bags from distribution.
In addition, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his government will move to ban single-use plastics from Canada by 2021.
It’s a move that comes within the context of a 10 per cent recycling rate for plastic products and projections that Canada will throw away an estimated $11 billion worth of plastic annually by 2030.
“We wanted to move ahead with this, regardless of the bylaws and such. Let’s face it. It’s the right thing to do” Kneeshaw said.