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Bulk Barn introduces a waste-reducing program

The bulk food store will offer a bring-your-own container option as of February 24

4 min read
caption Bulk Barn customers will soon be able to bring their own containers.
Allie Conway
caption Bulk Barn customers will soon be able to bring their own containers.
Allie Conway

Starting February 24, Bulk Barn stores across Canada will allow customers to bring their own containers.

“I have been battling a four-year struggle to bring a reusable container program to Bulk Barn,” says Jason Ofield, executive vice president at Bulk Barn Foods Limited.

Ofield approached his father, the current CEO and president of Bulk Barn, with the idea after recognizing an opportunity for the business to make a social change.

The initiative came to life as a pilot project at a Toronto store in September 2016.

“We stepped back … let our consumers speak and share with us their thoughts and their feedback and they were extremely positive,” says Ofield.

In November and December, Bulk Barn rolled out another 37 test market stores across Canada. Ofield says the feedback was phenomenal.

They decided all stores across Canada would go live with the program on February 24, which includes the 22 stores in Eastern Canada.

“I realized that climate change was impacting everybody in society,” says Ofield. “I looked at our business and I thought, ‘okay, people shop at Bulk Barn to buy in bulk, and when they shop at Bulk Barn, they look to buy as much or as little as they want and they reduce their food waste.’”

Ofield says climate change was something that his dad he was aware of, but it wasn’t as important to his father as it was to Ofield.

“You’ve got to remember that my dad is a baby boomer; he’s been in this business a long time and he doesn’t always like change,” says Ofield. “He’s not always open to it.”

He says he formed a research and development team with people from around the Bulk Barn corporate office.

“We spent a lot of time in a board room talking about different ideas, researching, phoning the different municipal health authorities, ensuring that we were following all of the necessary regulations,” he says.

Jillian Cormier is a Bulk Barn customer. The 24-year-old Dartmouth resident says she’s excited to see the initiative.

“It sounds great,” she says. “I hope people will actually be excited about it and jump on board. Although when it comes to that stuff I’m really bad for forgetting. I have a ton of recyclable bags but I rarely use them, so they would really have to push it and advertise a lot for me to remember.”

Ofield says for the time being, the store will continue to offer plastic bags, but they hope that, eventually, everyone will switch over to reusable alternatives.

“My dad is extremely happy. He realizes that this is a very positive evolution for the business,” Ofield says.

Customers will be allowed to bring their reusable containers and bags, but they must fit a certain criteria. This criteria can be found on their website. Bulk Barn will also have mason jars for purchase in-store.

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  1. M


    Amazing. I was put off the first and only time I went to bulk barn when I had to waste so many plastic bags to buy their products. I look forward to shopping there again
  2. M


    I am very concerned with monitoring sanitation when re-using containers. All clients do not hold the same level of sanitation. Some clients will put into the container and then take the product out of the container and put back into the bins. Not everyone uses soap and water or sanitation to the extent I do. I am not so sure I'd like to purchase at your stores with a re-use your own container policy. Plastics cannot be sterilized like glass.
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