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You Could Be the Future of Sustainable Packaging

March 17, 2022

The Sobeys Plastic Waste Challenge asks Canadian innovators for their big ideas.

In concert with its partners, the Sobeys Sustainability Team has launched the Plastic Waste Challenge, a national challenge intended to find alternatives for in-store wrapped fish, meat and produce packaging, currently comprised of hard-to-recycle plastic wrap, moisture pads, and Styrofoam trays.

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When we conducted a materiality assessment, we realized that eliminating single-use and hard-to-recycle plastic packaging was one of the top three priorities for our business – not just for our stakeholders and senior leaders, but for our employees and customers alike,

says Sobeys Sustainability Specialist Gauravi Saini. “Through our work with our processing partners, recyclers and government, we know that the foam trays used to package in-store wrapped meats, seafoods, and even some types of produce, are non-recyclable items. Our team at Sobeys has been trying to raise awareness about this fact.

Partnering with IGNITE Atlantic, Divert NS and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Sobeys is on a mission to find new and better ways to solve the plastic-packaging puzzle – and we need your help. In launching the Plastic Waste Challenge, we’re looking for eligible applicants across Canada, putting the word out to innovators, entrepreneurs, research labs, and manufacturers in our quest for new ideas.

Do you have an idea?

In May 2021, Sobeys eliminated single use plastic grocery bags from the checkout counters at Sobeys’ banner stores, becoming the first national store to make the move. It’s a move that eliminated approximately 800 million plastic bags annually. And we vowed to keep going. That’s why the Plastic Waste Challenge is so important. “We recognize that being a national grocery retailer we need to keep making strides in our sustainability journey. Therefore, Sobeys’ purpose in launching the Sobeys Plastic Waste Challenge was to be able to find an alternative to single-use and hard-to-recycle plastics.” Gauravi says.

Gauravi hopes that applicants for the Challenge will come from a wide network – processors, manufacturers, packagers, innovators – “really, [any eligible applicants who] might have a solution to help us bring about this change. They may not be existing packagers or manufacturers, but if they have an idea, then why not?”

The winner of the Plastic Waste Challenge will receive:

(i) a $25,000 cash prize from Sobeys, (ii) a 12-month residency package with Ignite Atlantic, (iii) a meeting with ACOA to discuss your idea’s potential for further development, and (iv) the opportunity to engage in discussions with Sobeys regarding a potential pilot in Nova Scotia. In addition, we’re excited to announce that Divert NS will contribute up to $25,000 to be used towards the cost of the winning applicant’s potential pilot at Sobeys. We want to hear from you!

For the month of March, Sobeys and the other Challenge partners will be accepting submissions from eligible innovators across Canada – our best and brightest thought leaders. If you know someone who can help shake up the single-use plastic world, please spread the word.

Visit the Plastic Waste Challenge online to learn more about the Challenge guidelines and to apply now. And if you have any suggestions on how to further reduce single use and hard to recycle plastics at Sobeys, send a note to sustainability@sobeys.com.