We have a plastic problem and Loblaw is part of it
February 1, 2021
In an email to PC OptimumTM customers, Galen shares his thoughts on plastic waste and how we’re tackling the problem. Here’s his message.
Some of the angriest customer emails I’ve ever received were about cucumbers. More specifically, why our multi-pack cucumbers were wrapped in so much plastic. Does that drive you crazy too? Obviously, there were good reasons for the wraps – food safety, maintaining freshness and reducing food waste – but it’s a perfect example of a much bigger problem…plastic waste.
You may have heard that plastic in our ocean will soon outweigh fish and that each of us eats a credit card worth of micro plastic each week. Here’s another stat: The packaged goods industry – my industry – is responsible for one-third of all that plastic waste.
It makes me think: If we’re one-third of the problem, we should be at least one-third of the solution. After all, we develop the products, we design the packaging, and we sell the stuff.
Here’s what you can expect from Loblaw as we bring new energy to the old “Three R’s” – reducing, recycling, and reusing plastics.
We’re cutting unnecessary plastic. Double-wrapped multi-pack cucumbers are just wrong. So, we’re fixing that problem. We’re also eliminating plastic straws and stir sticks, taking 1.8 million plastic hangers out of the Joe Fresh® operation, and looking through our entire business to get rid of this kind of waste. Last I checked, we had more than 100 projects in the works and we’re going to keep at it.
We’re investing in recycling. Did you know that our industry pays for many provincial blue box programs, up to 100% in some cases? Most work well, but we’re working with governments to make them better. I look at B.C., where we’re driving world-class results, and where the majority of household plastic waste is now captured, to be used again. Having a consistent supply of recycled plastics powers innovative companies like Ice River Springs, the local, family-run supplier of our PC® bottled natural spring water. They make all of their plastic bottles from post-consumer recycled content – just one Canadian company using 55 million pounds of recycled plastic each year! If we combine the right industry decisions with the right provincial systems we can keep plastic in the economy and out of the environment.
We’re working on reusable options. By 2025 all President’s Choice® products will have recyclable or reusable packaging. This is a big commitment and a challenge. One creative solution is a pilot that starts today in parts of Ontario with “Loop”, which puts big brands, including some of our President’s Choice products, into a system that reuses packaging over and over. Imagine the milkman concept but modernized. You can learn more here.
This is just a snapshot of what we’re up to at Loblaw and in our industry. In fact, I’m working with industry leaders from around the world and right here at home – companies representing about a trillion dollars in sales – to make big changes to how we use plastic. This includes new Golden Design Rules for packaging, and the launch last week of the Canadian Plastics Pact. The Pact brings founding members like Loblaw together with big brands, plastics makers, recyclers and experts up and down the value chain, so we can all make better decisions as we do our part.
We are going to make progress. As we do, we’ll share that news with you, through videos like this one from a recent chat I had with two of Canada’s leading environmental experts. If you’re interested, go to our Insiders Project website for articles about plastic food packaging, recycling 101, and a mini documentary about Ice River Springs’ amazing solution to plastic bottle waste.
Keep your eyes out for more. We want to continue the conversation.