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Canadian students can brag: 2.3 million plastic bags flagged

Date June 22, 2016 Author Jason Smith Categories Media Releases

More than 18 tonnes of plastic collected for recycling in five days

June 22, 2016 (Toronto, ON): If children are the future then the environment has reason to be optimistic. As part of the inaugural Plastic Bag Grab challenge during Earth Week 2016 (April 18 – 22) elementary schools students from across Canada collected 2,279,601 plastic shopping bags – approximately 18.4 metric tonnes of plastic – and brought them to their local Walmart store for recycling. The amount of plastic collected weighs as much as three orcas.

“When youth understand the importance of protecting the environment and see firsthand their actions make a difference it leads to life-long habits of sustainability and awareness,” says Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director, Recycling Council of Ontario. “We were amazed that in five short days the schools could collect more than 18 tonnes of plastic that will now be used as a resource for making new material instead of filling landfills and waterways.”


Winning schools are determined by the amount of plastic bags collected based on student population. In addition to provincial/territorial winners, Highview Public School in Pembroke, ON won the national social media prize the most creative post to social media with #PlasticBagGrab.

Schools are encouraged to apply their winnings to environmental initiatives, and have already identified a number of ideas, including rooftop solar panels, gardens, and improving local community trails. The challenge, led by Recycling Council of Ontario and provincial partners across Canada, was sponsored by Walmart Canada, which accepted the plastic bags and facilitated in-store collection and transport to local recyclers and processors. The Plastic Bag Grab also aligns with Walmart’s waste reduction priorities and coincides with the introduction of its five- cent plastic bag levy. 

“Walmart is committed to reducing the number of single-use plastic bags given away in-store and expanding opportunities to recycle plastic bags so they can be used to make new products,” said Christine Bomé, Senior Director Public Affairs, Walmart Canada. “Walmart Canada’s plastic bag reduction initiative is an integrated strategy that seeks to maintain the value of material, such as plastic film, throughout its entire lifecycle while making significant progress toward waste reduction.”

To maintain value of the material collected in the Plastic Bag Grab and demonstrate the viability of domestic markets, every plastic bag collected in the challenge was processed and remanufactured in Canada for use in new products, including ground stabilization grids for stables to prevent flooding. For more information on the Plastic Bag Grab challenge, including photos and videos of schools’ collection efforts, visit

About Recycling Council of Ontario Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) is a not-for-profit membership-based organization committed to minimizing society's impact on the environment by eliminating waste. RCO's mission is to inform and educate all members of society about the avoidance of waste, efficient use of resources, and the benefits and/or consequences of these activities. / @RCOntario

About Walmart Canada and Zero Waste

Walmart Canada operates a growing chain of 400 stores nationwide serving more than 1.2 million customers each day. Walmart Canada’s flagship online store,, is visited by 500,000 customers daily. With more than 95,000 associates, Walmart Canada is one of Canada’s largest employers and is ranked as one of the country’s top 10 most influential brands. Creating zero waste across its operations is a global Walmart sustainability goal. Walmart Canada’s 12 dedicated waste reduction programs divert 80% of its operational waste from landfill. These waste programs range from cardboard to paint to organic matter. The company has set plastic film as one of its current waste reduction priorities and is asking customers to switch from single-use plastic shopping bags to reusable bags.


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