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More than bag fee needed to make grocers green: Toronto Environmental Alliance - Toronto Sun

July 4, 2012
Jenny Yuen
Toronto Sun

TORONTO - The Toronto Environmental Alliance said while it’s often difficult to gauge just how “green” grocery stores are, business should be focusing on reducing waste by buying locally.

The environmental group said besides charging five cents per plastic bag, grocers should look at making their internal operations more sustainable, which includes making their stores and warehouses more energy-efficient and reducing the amount of packaging on their products.

“In January, a grocery store is not going to be able to buy strawberries from Ontario, but right now, it would be a real shame for a store to be importing strawberries from far away instead of buying Ontario strawberries,” said TEA executive director Franz Hartmann.

“The sad reality is there are many instances where Ontario farmers are exporting their produce outside of the country, while Ontario stores are importing the same produce from far away.”

When asked whether Sobeys would consider going local-only as an environmental initiative, spokesman Sarah Stover said stores need to provide “products available for our customers at all times.”

Shoppers interviewed by the Toronto Sun on Sunday – the day the bag fee officially came to an end – fumed about still paying the nickel per bag, insisting it was “gouging.”

“I don’t think there was ever transparency about what the money was being collected for,” said Ken Whitehurst, executive director of the Consumers Council of Canada.

“I think the notion of charging for bags was simply predicated by people’s consumption of them. I don’t know if anyone ever had the specific understanding that fees charged would go to some other purpose.”

The Retail Council of Canada said when there is no government regulation, they cannot “engage in discussions with individual companies as to how they’ll be managing any particular item,” said senior vice-president Dave Wilkes.

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