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Sobeys diverts 720,000 plastic bags for waterfront furniture project

Grocer unveils table and bench donation to continue promoting plastic reduction and reuse

Sobeys diverts 720,000 plastic bags for waterfront furniture project

Sobeys Inc. today announced plans to donate a collection of public seating made entirely of recycled plastic bags and heavier recycled plastic materials, such as bins, to be installed in family-oriented community spaces across Atlantic Canada. 

The first piece, the specially designed Ultimate Picnic Table, will be unveiled today on the Halifax Waterfront. This large table and bench system is much larger and is made of a unique design which seats 20 people, including accessible seating and is built from 60,000 recycled plastic bags.

Sobeys is working with Dartmouth-based LakeCity Plastics to create the pieces and has partnered with Develop Nova Scotia and other Atlantic government partners to select accessible, family-focused public spaces on waterfronts across the region. This donation follows the Company's industry-leading commitment to remove plastic grocery bags from all Sobeys grocery stores by the end of January 2020. The change will take 225 million plastic grocery bags out of circulation at Sobeys' 255 locations across Canada each year.

"Atlantic Canada applauded our decision to eliminate plastic bags from our Sobeys stores and we wanted to find other unique ways to give back to the birthplace of our Company and the home of the beloved Sobeys Bag," said Vittoria Varalli, Vice President, Sustainability, Sobeys Inc. "The bench designs bring sustainability, innovation and functionality together in a very unique way. Atlantic Canadian families and all who visit our region will be able to enjoy beautiful spaces like the Halifax waterfront and take advantage of tables and benches that represent the changes we all want to see - reduced plastic use and smarter recycling of plastic waste."

The grocer will announce the locations of the benches and picnic tables in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland & Labrador in the Spring of 2020.

"As a company, we are incredibly proud of our Nova Scotia roots. We look forward to giving Atlantic Canadians families sustainable, locally designed picnic tables to enjoy in their community spaces," comments Dave Sobey, Director, Support Services, Sobeys Inc. "Our stores have incredible connections to each of the unique communities they serve and this is just one way we can give back and thank our customers and communities for giving us their support."

The benches are designed and built by LakeCity Plastics, a social enterprise that provides employment opportunities to youth and adults living with mental illness. LakeCity is collaborating with Goodwood Plastic Products of Colchester County, sourcing Goodwood's plastic lumber which is made from used plastic bags and containers, to produce outdoor furniture that is designed to last a lifetime. Each of LakeCity's regular size picnic tables diverts more than 15,000 plastic bags from local landfills.

LakeCity Plastics Executive Director Liam O'Rourke comments, "This was a natural partnership for us. We know that Sobeys is focused on sustainability, and supports reusable alternatives. It's exciting to see an important public project come to life with such an iconic brand. From a sector perspective, having Sobeys decide to "buy social" and support one of our budding enterprises shows their great community leadership in so many ways. This is an exciting project with both social and environmental benefits, a win-win for Nova Scotia."

Develop Nova Scotia is working with Sobeys to identify the best locations for the donated furniture within the province and played a key role in supporting the design and installation of the Ultimate Picnic Table in Halifax.

"At Develop Nova Scotia one of the areas on which we are focused is creating spaces for people to connect and share time," states Jennifer Angel, CEO, Develop Nova Scotia. "Visitors and locals alike continue to be drawn to our vibrant waterfronts and we love the idea that these gathering spots created by Sobeys will represent such a positive change for the environment." 

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