Wednesday, April 9, 2008

LCBO plastic bags

The Toronto Star finally produced an article that's worth reading. It's about the LCBO and how our premier is working towards a ban of plastic bag use. And it's something that I completely agree with.

I appreciate that LCBO has taken steps already to be more environmentally friendly. After all, every true wine lover is also an environmentalist at heart. Which, ironically, is very odd because global warming has been fantastic for the ripening of grapes.

Anyways, over the years, I've noticed that LCBO has steadily changed their packaging of wine. It used to be paper bags for every single bottle, and then a big, thick plastic bag. LCBO plastic bags are without a doubt the thickest bags anywhere. Glass bottles are heavy and need sturdy support. Stores then had a phase where they would paper bag some bottles and use these green mesh nets on the others, to prevent the bottles from breaking. In the past year or so, they've thankfully moved away from the nets. However, they're still sticking with the paper bags and plastic, although they've trained their staff to ask you whether or not you want a bag. It's a noble effort to try to cut down, but it's not enough. Definitely not enough.

Another issue is returning bottles. My family has always recycled bottles, but apparently the vast majority don't. That's why they instituted the bottle refund system, the same system as with beer bottles. And it's a great success - I don't mind paying an extra $0.20 deposit.

I don't understand why they can't phase out plastic bags altogether. Paper bags, at least you can recycle. But there's no way to recoup the losses of a plastic bag, from the resources needed to produce it, to what happens after you through it away. It's so damn thick that, as the article says, it's going to be in landfills for the next million years.

There's a stigma to carrying your own bag to go shopping. Things like groceries. Why? The Shanghainese do it. So do the French. So why not North Americans?

So, the conclusion is...I promise that from now on, I'll never pick up a plastic LCBO bag ever again. And I'll try to use as little paper bags as possible. The wines that I order from Vintages come in cardboard boxes, so I'm covered there. I can't believe how self-righteous North Americans are when it comes to environmentalism, since we're the most guilty in terms of pollution.



  1. Both the plastic bag ban and bottle recycling programs are revenue generators for the government of Ontario.

  2. what's your point? Is anyone under the impression that the government isn't out to make money?

    At least they're making an effort to address this issue. Some consumers need incentives to get off their asses and return empty bottles. And as of today, the LCBO has announced that they're phasing out their plastic bags.

  3. Two things... the LCBO bags were always recycled at my house... to carry shoes in winter, carry empties back to the Beer store, they were the most robust bags a person could get and I used them a lot. Plastic bags, unlike some people think, break down fairly quickly, especially if sunlight and heat are involved. Two years tops.

  4. Rod - Thanks for your comment.

    I agree, and applaud the idea that you're reusing these bags. But I'm trying to make the argument that its better to completely get rid of them. I understand that cynics can say that LCBO is just out to make a profit with all these new programs, but I say that it's better than nothing. Whatever they're motivation is, reducing use of plastic bags and encouraging the recycling of bottles is a step towards the right direction.