A man leaves a Loblaws store in Toronto on Thursday, May 3, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Environmental groups applaud Loblaw’s commitment to phase out receipts with phenol

Environmental groups applaud Loblaw’s commitment to phase out receipts with phenol

TORONTO — Loblaw Companies Ltd. is winning praise from a coalition of environmental, health and labour groups for its commitment to stop using receipt paper that contains a potentially dangerous chemical.

The grocery and drugstore chain confirmed Tuesday its plan to transition to phenol-free receipt paper across all its divisions by the end of 2021.

The move was applauded by groups that said it will help protect workers and customers from harmful chemicals.

It also renewed pressure on other Canadian retailers to phase out the chemical.

“Loblaw’s actions are the latest example of a growing trend among top North American retailers,” said Mike Schade, director of the Mind the Store campaign, which pushes large retailers to eliminate toxic chemicals from their products and operations.

“Sobeys, Metro, and other Canadian retailers should step up and join Loblaw in banning toxic chemicals in their receipts,” he said in a statement.

In 2019, the Toronto-based environmental group Environmental Defence released research that showed cashiers may be exposed to hormone-disrupting chemicals found on receipt paper.

The findings prompted a coalition of groups to launch a call-to-action urging Canada’s top retail giants to stop using bisphenol-coated receipt paper.

“Grocery store cashiers who are exposed to high levels of hormone-disrupting (bisphenol A) and (bisphenol S) from handling receipts deserve to be protected,” Muhannad Malas, toxics program manager at Environmental Defence, said in a statement.

The Canadian government declared bisphenol A (BPA) a toxic chemical in October 2010. Some retailers removed BPA-coated receipt paper, but replaced it with paper that contains similar phenol substances, according to the groups.

In January 2020, Costco Canada became the first Canadian-based grocery retailer to phase out bisphenol-coated receipt paper, the coalition of health, labour and environmental groups said Tuesday.

Last spring, Loblaw said in its Corporate Social Responsibility report that it plans to transition to phenol-free receipt paper by the end of 2021.

“Loblaw’s commitment to phase out all phenols in their thermal paper used for receipts by the end of 2021 is excellent news for women’s health, and we applaud the company for this initiative,” Jennifer Beeman, executive director of Breast Cancer Action Quebec said in a statement.

“Bisphenols used in thermal paper are known endocrine disruptors and can be a significant source of exposure for women – many of whom keep their receipts – as well as the women, particularly teens and young women, working as cashiers.”

She said bisphenol exposures can disrupt normal breast development and health and cause other types of health problems.

Loblaw includes stores under the banners Loblaws, Zehrs, Your Independent Grocer, Real Atlantic Superstore and Provigo, as well as its discount division, which includes No Frills and Maxi.

The company also has a network of Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix drugstores.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:L)

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