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Liquor stores impose a 10 cent fee on paper bags

Manitoba Liquor Mart customers will soon have to pay a fee for brown paper bags.

All stores will start charging 10 cents for an average-sized bag on Feb. 1 as Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries tries to eliminate waste and reduce its environmental footprint, a spokesperson said.

Large paper bags and single bottle sleeves are being phased out, leaving medium bags as the only option provided by the store. The state corporation encourages customers to use their own reusable bags when shopping at liquor stores.

The 10 cent fee will also apply to large bags while supplies last. Rounds will be free until discontinued.

Most customers said they weren’t bothered by the fees, as they are used to retailers charging for plastic or paper bags. (Mikaela MacKenzie/Winnipeg Free Press)

“By switching to reusable bags, we can keep the more than eight million single-use bags used in our stores each year from entering recycling and waste streams,” the spokesperson said. “That equates to 3,700 trees per year. Not only are we protecting our forests, but we are also reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

“This initiative aims to reduce our impact on the environment by encouraging our customers to consider using reusable bags when shopping at liquor stores.”

Liquor stores sell reusable bags in various sizes. The largest is capable of carrying a pack of 15 beers and two 750ml bottles.

Stores will keep stronger cardboard boxes on hand for large purchases and event orders.

MBLL’s liquor distribution center serves as a recycling center for liquor stores in Winnipeg. It sends more than 500 tonnes of cardboard per year to a local recycling centre.

“This initiative saves more than 8,500 mature trees per year,” said the spokesperson.

the Free press spoke to customers at a liquor store in Portage la Prairie on Tuesday, and most said they weren’t bothered by the fees because they’re used to retailers charging for plastic bags or in paper.

“Everyone does. We’re just going to have to get used to not leaving our (reusable) bags in our car,” said Patricia Fiddler. “We should be more aware of our recycling, so I totally agree.”

“We should be more aware of our recycling, so I totally agree.” – Patricia Fiddler, customer

Paper bags have been provided free with Liquor Mart purchases for decades. MBLL’s plans to charge fees have been in the works for some time, although they were temporarily put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

The Company uses social media, advertising, in-store signage and its website to educate customers. Staff were notified last week.

The fee will cover the costs of producing and purchasing the bags and is not expected to provide net revenue to the state corporation, the spokesperson said.

In 2020, the total cost of paper bags, including recycling fees, was over $450,000.

In 2020, the total cost of paper bags, including recycling fees, was over $450,000.

The Green Action Center in Winnipeg, which promotes greener living, said it would like to see MBLL donate proceeds from the 10-cent fee to charities or environmental initiatives.

Colleen Ans, coordinator of the organization’s Living Green, Living Well program, praised the fees and MBLL’s commitment to reducing waste and consumption of energy, water and raw materials.

She hopes the change will reduce the production of bags and end up in landfills.

“Similar to the plastic bag charge, a fee encourages people to stop using paper bags,” Ans said. “Paper is still a disposable item. It still creates waste and it takes energy to make the bags.”

Liquor stores stopped giving customers single-use plastic bags in 2008.

In recent years, the movement to move away from single-use plastics has gained momentum in Canada.

Ottawa plans to ban single-use plastic items, including bags, cutlery, straws, some take-out containers and six-pack rings, by the end of the year.

Walmart will eliminate single-use plastic bags in its Canadian stores by April 30.

The company said the change will prevent nearly 750 million plastic bags from entering circulation each year.

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Twitter: @chriswitching