Canadian retail company Loblaw has revealed plans to complete the phase-out of all single-use plastic shopping bags across its operations by early next year.

The retailer’s corporate and franchise grocery stores, pharmacies and PC Express stores across Canada will stop providing plastic bags by the end of Q1 2023.

This plan will complete a 15-year move that began with the firm implementing a pay-for-bag programme to cut down on plastic waste, becoming one of the country’s first retailers to do so.

Loblaw Companies chief operating officer Robert Sawyer said: “As a purpose-led organisation committed to helping Canadians live life well, we are proud to be taking a significant step on such an important environmental issue. 

“Since 2007, our efforts to reduce the number of single-use plastic shopping bags leaving our stores has led to 13.8 billion fewer bags potentially going into landfill.”

Loblaw’s move to adopt a plastic bag fee has led to a 70% drop in the use of plastic bags in its stores, while consumers have switched to PC reusable bags and plastic bins as sustainable alternative options. 

The company said that as the single-use plastic bags are being phased out on a province-by-province basis, customers will be offered reusable alternative choices to help with the transition.

It added that ongoing communications will aim to raise awareness of these options among shoppers.

The move is part of Loblaw’s wider environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts, which include making all its control brand and in-store packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.

The retailer plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 for its Scope I and II emissions, reaching this target by 2050 for Scope III emissions.

It currently operates a network of 2,500 stores across Canada, as well as a national e-commerce service.