June 18, 2018 (Toronto, ON): Recycling Council of Ontario is pleased to share that as part of the 2018 Plastic Bag Grab Challenge 210,185 students from 635 elementary schools across Canada took action on plastic waste and championed three important words: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In doing so, students collected 1,903,193 single-use plastic shopping bags – 15.23 metric tonnes of plastic – and brought them to local Walmart stores for recycling.

“Students did a spectacular job engaging their communities to raise awareness about the consequences of plastic waste,” says Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director, Recycling Council of Ontario. “Their enthusiasm and commitment is evidence that we can eliminate our reliance on single-use plastic.”

The Plastic Bag Grab Challenge focuses on reduction at the source through avoidance and reuse, and promotes proper recycling through single-use plastic bag collection. Participating schools are challenged to build awareness on plastic and plastic waste in their communities through curriculum-based resources, and their efforts are recognized through action and innovation. Students also learn about how plastic bags are made, its position as a finite and non-renewable resource, and the consequences of mismanagement at end of life.

A grand prize of $1,000 is awarded to one school in each province/territory that best embraces the reduce and reuse objectives of the 2018 campaign, and schools are encouraged to apply their winnings to environmental initiatives. In previous years, schools have applied their winnings to innovative sustainability measures, including rooftop solar panels, gardens, and improving local community trails.

A social media prize is also awarded to one school in each province/territory that posts creative and educational photos or videos to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with hashtag #PlasticBagGrab.

2018 Plastic Bag Grab Challenge Winning Schools

Plastic Bag Grab 2018

Select photos and videos of the challenge are available at plasticbaggrab.com/2018-results.

The challenge, led by Recycling Council of Ontario, is sponsored by Walmart Canada, which accepted the plastic bags and facilitated in-store collection and transport to recyclers and processors.

“Walmart is committed to reducing the environmental impact of plastic bags, both in our stores and through our support of initiatives like the Plastic Bag Grab Challenge,” said Lee Tappenden, president and CEO, Walmart Canada. “The students involved in this challenge took it on with such enthusiasm and determination, putting a real voice to this important sustainability issue. We are incredibly proud to support their efforts,” he said.

To maintain value of the material collected in the Plastic Bag Grab and to ensure full traceability, every plastic bag collected in the challenge is processed and remanufactured in North America for use in new products, including plastic lumber

“Over-consumption and improper management of plastic waste is a global threat, and jurisdictions around the world are focused becoming more and more focused on plastic pollution. As the Plastic Bag Grab Challenge demonstrates, engagement, empowerment and early learning are fundamental to meaningful action,” continued St. Godard.

Quick Stats on Plastic

  • One billion single-use plastic bags are handed out in Canada every year
  • Nearly two million single-use plastic bags are distributed worldwide every minute
  • 57 million single-use plastic straws are thrown out every day
  • 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic has been generated around the world since 1953; 6.3 billion tonnes has gone to waste
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans every year
  • More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our oceans.
  • 91% of all plastic waste isn’t recycled


Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, gives thanks and offers encouragement to everyone that took part in this year’s Plastic Bag Grab Challenge.

Lee Tappenden, President and CEO of Walmart Canada, with a special message for schools and students that took part in the Plastic Bag Grab Challenge.

Plastic Bag Grab Challenge in Action