Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-op Bans Plastic Bags

Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-op Bans Plastic Bags

The following story is reprinted by permission from Northern News Services Ltd. at The story was written by Heather Lange of Northern News Services and Published Thursday, September 1, 2011.  NNSL covers the Northwest Territories of Canada. The cover photo is the Downtown Skyline of Yellowknife and was made by Trevor MacInnis.

Plastic bag-free zone at Co-op


The Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-op has joined Canadian Tire and 70 other NWT businesses in declaring a plastic bag -free zone in the store as of Aug. 1. "It was a decision we came to as a whole," said Justin Nelson, Co-op assistant general manager.  Currently, seventy-one businesses in the NWT no longer sell plastic bags.

Alex McBride loads her groceries that are packed into her reusable bags into her vehicle outside the Co-op on Wednesday. McBride said the only thing about plastic bags not being sold at the Co-op is she liked to use one for her meat and now she has to remember to bring one. - Heather Lange/NNSL photo
The Co-op stopped selling single-use retail bags, including the plastic bag at the beginning of August and the switch had had good response from Co-op members so far. "We've had about three complaints out of 4,000 members, so the complaints have been very little," said Nelson.

Some patrons of the store said they miss the option of having a plastic bag when they forget canvas or reusable bags at home.

"The odd time I do forget to bring my bags, it would be nice to have a plastic bag available. They now supply boxes for free but what do you do with the box once you're done? Do you throw it out or recycle?" said Dave Brothers.

"I'm OK with it as long as we remember our bags. We have over 20 bags at home," said Sylvia Masongsong.

Bob Moody exited the Co-op with his hands overflowing with groceries. Although it might have made his trip easier, Moody said the new plastic bag-free zone was for the best.  "It's better that I don't have a plastic bag and throw it away."

The Co-op has lowered the cost of its reusable bag to 49 cents as of Aug. 1 to help consumers stalk up on their reusable bags at a lower cost.  The cost of a reusable bag at the Co-op will stay at 49 cents until Nov. 1, when it will go back up to 99 cents.

"It's smarter to use a reusable bag than a plastic bags, and since we have lowered the price, we have sold 4,000 bags at 49 cents. We have definitely gotten more bags out there into the community," said Nelson.

"Environmentally, it is the best thing to do. I encourage all store owners to do away with plastic bags and think of the future," said Nelson.

Chris Kondracki, store manager at Canadian Tire, said the store has had good results from implementing its own plastic bag free zone in the store since January.

"Initially, there was certainly some learning on behalf of the customer just understanding they had to bring a cloth bag in with them, but that learning curve only lasted a month or two. Most are appreciative of the fact that our store has eliminated plastic bags," said Kondracki.

The decision to be rid of single-use retail bags, was not a nation-wide decision, but one stemming from the Yellowknife store.

Canadian Tire sells their reusable bags for 98 cents a piece for a loss in profits. Kondracki said the price will continue to stay low so they stay competitive and provide an alternative to a customer who didn't bring a bag from home.

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