This Canadian Supermarket Lets Customers Use Their Own Reusable Containers

This option is available for all fresh products in the deli, ready-to eat meals, meat, fish, and seafood.

May 9, 2019

(BobNoah / Shutterstock.com)

Customers of the Québec Metro supermarkets now have the option to use their own reusable containers and zip-lock type bags to buy fresh products. This includes the deli, ready-to-eat meals, meat, fish, and seafood departments.

“We want to reduce the use of single-use plastic packaging. This is why we implemented a simple structure for customers to bring their own containers from home without having to compromise the quality or safety of the products they purchase in our stores,” Marc Giroux, senior vice president – Metro said in a press release.

Zero waste supermarkets where customers can buy bulk items without any packaging have been popular for a while in the UK, Europe, and the US, but this is the first time a major retailer in Canada has made this move.

"It was just a matter of time before we saw a main grocer moving forward on this issue," Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University told CBC Montreal's Daybreak. "It's really good news for the industry — it is now a benchmark."

Charlebois explained that Metro has to follow the conditions that were set by Quebec's Ministry of Food and Agriculture. All of the containers have to be clean to be able to be used and cannot have logos or bar codes on them.

According to the chain, some of the products will have to be weighed before being put into the containers, and some of the ready-made-items can just be filled, and a label will be given to the customer to take to the check-out. Glass containers will not be accepted for use.

This was a consumer-driven change due to people's increased interest in zero waste and environmental issues. While some stores have been making small changes to reduce plastic, this was a "game changer," Charlebois told CBC.

The company said that for almost a decade, Metro had been committed to a corporate responsibility approach to what it calls, four pillars: customers, communities, employees and the environment. Metro has set objectives to reduce its environmental impact through measures to reduce waste, food waste, reducing its plastic packaging, and the energy efficiency of its buildings.

The new reusable packaging was tested in a pilot project in three cities, Drummondville, Saint-Eustache, and L’Ancienne-Lorette before the April 22 province-wide launch.

There are 365 Metro stores in Québec and Ontario as well as 72 Super C discount supermarket stores in Québec, and 119 Food Basics discount supermarket stores in Ontario and Marché Richelieu, a small grocery chain. Metro is the third largest grocer in Canada.

With the Metro chain taking the lead, hopefully, supermarkets across Canada will implement this new policy. It is a big win for Québec, for Canada and for our planet.

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