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‘Chaos’: Burnaby shoppers upset as stores suddenly get rid of plastic bags

Customers said there was no warning and some had to juggle multiple items in their arms while leaving the store.
Plastic bags
Walmart in Burnaby is not handing out these bags anymore.

Two of Burnaby’s biggest grocery stores have eliminated having plastic bags for grocery items and some customers are upset at the change and how it was handled.

The Walmart stores at Metropolis at Metrotown and Lougheed Town Centre no longer offer plastic bags and the change was finalized on Friday, April 22, which was Earth Day.

Some Burnaby customers said they hadn’t seen any warnings about the change and were stuck at the checkout areas with no way to carry their groceries.

“It was chaos,” said Tanis Phillips, a Burnaby senior. “I support the idea, but it was poorly handled. People had no idea it was happening and we were all stuck. I saw people trying to carry all of their groceries in their arms as they walked out of the store.”

Walmart has joined other grocery store companies, like Safeway, in eliminating plastic bags, although there are exceptions, according to Walmart.

“At this time, we will still provide:
1. Bags for items sold in bulk, such as meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, candy, flour, and cereals.
2. Produce bags.
3. Items already packaged by means of industrial processing.”

Walmart issued a statement on its website about why it was making the change.

“Walmart Canada is serious about reducing single-use plastics,” said the company. “We know it’s up to retailers like us to step up and make big changes, especially when it comes to sustainability. This is the latest in a series of initiatives to eliminate unnecessary plastics across our business. In line with our 2019 Plastics Charter, we are taking aim at single-use plastic bags — with a goal of reducing distribution by 50% or more by 2025. As a result, stores across Canada will no longer provide any single-use plastic bags in store or for online pickup and grocery orders. Walmart is committed to reducing single-use plastics to help keep them out of the environment. As part of our efforts, we have committed not only to decreasing the use of single-use plastic check out bags, but to offer customers choice reusable options — customers can bring in their own bags and if needed are able to purchase reusable options in store for a low price.”