Quebecers consumed 52% fewer single-use shopping bags

Montréal, July 23, 2012 - Mr. Pierre Arcand, Minister of Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP), released today the results of a study showing that,  between 2007 and 2010, Quebecers consumed 52% fewer single-use shopping bags, hitting the target set by the government two years before the 2012 expiry of the Voluntary Code of Best Practices for the Use of Shopping Bags. The announcement was made in the presence of Ginette Bureau, President and CEO of RECYC-QUÉBEC, and Maryse Vermette, President and CEO of Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ),  the organization that represents Québec’s various retailer associations who successfully implemented the Code.

In 2008, our government challenged the industry to reduce by half the number of single-use shopping bags distributed to consumers by 2012. In less than two years, all Quebecers, including retailers, enthusiastically jumped on board. These outstanding results show how appropriate and far-reaching the act of reducing at the source can be. We must now remain on track and continue working together to reduce shopping bag use even further,” commented Minister Arcand. 

Quebecers consumed 1.0 billion single-use shopping bags in 2010 as compared to 2.2 billion bags distributed three years earlier. The rate of decline in single-use shopping bag distribution between 2007 and 2010 therefore comes out to 52% for the entire retail sector. Only two years into the application of the Code, this outcome exceeds by 2% the 50% reduction  targeted by the government for 2012. For consumer goods retailers who generate the greatest number of transactions, that reduction actually reached 60%. 

The results obtained clearly show Quebec’s capacity to mobilize within a short period of time in order to make a significant difference in the responsible management of residual materials and reducing at the source,” Ginette Bureau of RECYC-QUÉBEC added.

Voluntary Code of Best Practices for the Use of Shopping Bags 
Remember that, in April 2008, the Voluntary Code of Best Practices for the Use of Shopping Bags was adopted by the Association des détaillants en alimentation du Québec (ADA), the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (CCGD), now replaced by the Retail Council of Canada (RCC), the Québec Retail Council (QRC), Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ) and RECYC-QUÉBEC. Covering four years, the Code was designed to reduce the number of single-use shopping bags in circulation. In that context, the government challenged the industry to reduce by half the number of single-use shopping bags distributed to consumers by 2012.

Once again, industry has demonstrated its willingness to take responsibility by applying sound practices to the management of the recyclable materials they put on the market. Voluntary action is the best option to develop adapted measures, which is what Québec retailers have successfully done using the Code,” stressed Ms. Vermette, ÉEQ’s President and CEO. “The results of the survey are conclusive and give impetus to the other challenges ÉEQ’s members are taking up with regard to reducing at the source and packaging optimization.

Study methodology
Consisting in a survey of Québec retailers who distribute significant numbers of shopping bags, the study looked at data  from 2007 to 2010 and was completed in February 2012 by Groupe Altus on behalf of RECYC-QUÉBEC and ÉEQ. They surveyed 3,228 establishments in all retail business sectors in Québec. More specifically, categories represented in the sample include retailers in such sectors as food products, drug store, renovation, beer, wine and liquor and others (electronic devices, clothing and footwear). For the complete list, see the fact sheet.

Concerned with helping Quebecers find innovative ways to sustainably manage residual materials so we may become a waste-free society, RECYC-QUÉBEC encourages all Quebecers to reduce at the source, reuse, recycle and recover residual materials. RECYC-QUÉBEC therefore seeks to influence how products are manufactured and consumed. It is the designated organization for coordinating recovery activities under Quebec’s Residual Materials Management Policy.

About Éco Entreprises Québec
Éco Entreprises Québec is a private, non-profit organization. ÉEQ’s mission is to represent companies with regard to their responsibility to finance their share of the net costs of municipal curbside recycling, establish reasonable fees to ensure program financing  and, in partnership with other stakeholders, promote efforts to increase the quantities of recovered materials through curbside recycling at the lowest possible cost.

Maxime Sauvageau
Director of Communications – Political Adviser
Office of the Minister, Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs
Tel. : 418 521-3911
Media Relations
Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs
Tel.: 418-521-3991

Erwanne Plisson
Communications Officer and
Press Relations, RECYC-QUÉBEC
Tel.: 418-643-0394, ext. 3238
Toll Free: 1-866-523-8290

Mathieu Guillemette
Coordinator, Technical Services
Éco Entreprises Québec 
Tel.: 514-987-1491, ext. 232

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