Frequently Asked Questions - Plastic, compostable, or re-usable bags

Why don’t you get rid of plastic bags all together?
We want to offer choice to our members, just as we do with all of the products in our stores. Many people use plastic bags to manage household waste. We believe that plastic bags will continue to be part of the municipal waste stream even if plastic bags were to be eliminated at check out. Remember – you can recycle plastic grocery bags in Calgary’s recycling programs by bundling together into a single bag.

Why not paper bags?
They can be bulky to store and can be difficult for customers to carry if they don’t have handles. Paper bags also take considerable energy to create and still require recycling. If you have your own paper bags you’d like to re-use at our stores, please bring them in!

Are the new compostable bags strong?
Yes, they are. They are stronger than the current plastic checkout bag. You can carry a medium size turkey or three bottles of wine with no problem; we have tried it ourselves. They are strong enough to bag your kitchen compost.

Are these new shopping bags certified compostable?
Yes! Our bags are certified compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) to testing standard ASTM D6400. They are acceptable in municipal composting programs like Calgary’s Green Cart program. They are not suitable for backyard composting.

What is the compostable bag made from?
The resin used to make the bag is a co-polymer that contains a biodegradable polymer, and polylactic acid (PLA), a plastic substitute made from fermented corn starch. The ink on the bag is vegetable based.

How long do these bags take to break down in a composting facility?
The BPI standard is 180 days, though these bags will take anywhere from 10-45 to completely decompose and biodegrade, depending on the technology used at the composting facility.

Will the bag begin breaking down with my groceries in it?
No – the conditions required for decomposition of the bags are as follows: they need a moist environment, with sustained temperatures of 125F/52C, and active healthy populations of microorganisms (such as found in dirt and compost) in order to begin degradation.

Shopping bags are only part of the problem. What other plastics will you look at?
Plastic plays in important part in helping us transport and carry our shopping items as well as protect foods from damage, provide food safety and extend freshness. We also know people are concerned about plastic and this is a start for us in terms of plastic reduction.

I can never remember my reusable bags!

Here are a few tips to make reusable bags a habit:

  • Make them the first item on your shopping list.
  • Keep your reusable bags handy in the car or front closet, and it’ll be easier to remember to bring them in to the store.
  • Immediately put your bags back in your handy spot when you’re finished
  • Involve your kids! Explain what you’re trying to do and the reasons why. They’ll help you remember.
  • Ask Google, Alexa or Siri to add reusable bags to your voice generated shopping lists, so you’ll always have a reminder.
  • Be extra disciplined while forming your reusable bag habit. If you forget your reusable bags zip back to the car or house. Yes it’s a pain, but this inconvenience will help you remember next time.
  • Program your smart phone with a reminder that pops up when you’re nearing your local Calgary Co-op, and you’ll remember to bring your bags from the car into the store.

How will the bag credits work now?
Currently, using a reusable bag means you didn’t use a plastic bag and to thank you for that we provided a 3 cent credit to either the member’s bill or to Calgary Co-op’s Community Foundation. Given that we’re moving to a bag charge; you still are saving money by bringing your own shopping bag. For every reusable bag you re-use, we will donate 3 cents to Calgary Co-op’s Community Foundation on your behalf.

What does the foundation support?
The Co-op Community Foundation supports food security and other important community causes in and around Calgary. Some of our funding recipients include Meals on Wheels, Calgary Food Bank, Children’s Cottage, High River Food for Thought, Brown Bagging for Kids.