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Big retailer will test reusable packaging to replace throwaway plastic in Canada

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Canadian efforts to reduce single-use plastic will get a boost this year when a major retailer is slated to launch a test of reusable packaging in the most populated part of the country.

The chain’s identity is expected to be unveiled this spring, with online operations starting by year end, says the founder of recycler TerraCycle’s Loop.

« I say this as a Canadian, I’m super excited about getting Loop to Canada. I think it will resonate really well with the public there, » says Tom Szaky, who grew up in Toronto.

Residents within a 200- to 300-kilometre radius of Canada’s largest city will be able to purchase hundreds of products in reusable packaging made by some of the world’s leading brands, including Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and Nestle.

Goods ranging from Haagen-Dazs ice cream to shampoo, toothbrushes and laundry detergent packaged in specially designed reusable containers will be ordered online from the retailer’s e-commerce site and delivered along with other store purchases. In-store purchases are expected to follow about six months later.

Cold-pressed juice startup Greenhouse Juice Co. will also participate in the project, demonstrating it’s not just suitable for « big behemoths, » he said.

The system is akin to the old milkman delivery service that was ubiquitous in the 1950s and 1960s.

« Loop is very much a reboot of an old idea but done in a very modern setting, » said Szaky.

A deposit will be charged for the container and it will be refunded when the unwashed vessel is returned at the next delivery or at the store.

The recycling effort is being launched as corporations — including large retailers, airlines and fast-food chains — have joined a global bandwagon aimed at reducing single-use plastics. The material has attracted negative attention from images of a floating garbage island in the Pacific Ocean and tangled ocean wildlife.

Other retail solutions

Retailers including Ikea, Walmart, KFC, A&W, Starbucks and Subway have promised to eliminate plastic straws and are looking for plastic alternatives for lids and cutlery. Air Canada says it will replace millions of plastic stir sticks with wood on all flights starting this summer. Tim Hortons’ parent company says it will unveil efforts to tackle the issue in the coming months, begin testing a new strawless lid this year and increase the amount of recycled content in packaging.

Loop would do away with disposable containers for some name-brand products, such as Clorox wipes, above, some shampoos and laundry detergents. Instead, those products would be delivered in sleek, reusable containers that will be picked up at your door, washed and refilled. (Dara Rackley/TerraCycle via AP)

Retailers, suppliers, consumer goods companies and governments are taking action after research has disclosed the size of the challenge, says Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart Inc.

The world’s largest retailer has promised in Canada to further reduce checkout plastic bags, replace plastic straws with paper and eliminate « hard-to-recycle » PVC, expanded polystyrene and unnecessary plastic packaging in all its own private brand products.

McLaughlin denies Walmart is merely engaging in a public-relations exercise.

« No, this is real action, » she said in an interview. « We are trying to change the way that people produce and consume products. »

Loblaw Cos. Ltd. says it is looking for solutions both to plastic and food waste, and has taken action to reduce plastic checkout bags, increase recyclable packaging and eliminate synthetic microbeads in its private-label products.

« The challenge of plastics won’t be solved by one-off actions. It requires the work of industry, government and consumers — and a system built to address the environmental, social and business opportunities and risks associated with waste, » spokesperson Kevin Groh wrote in an email.

Metro Inc. expects to unveil its approach to reducing waste, including plastic by mid-year. Sobey’s says it agrees with customers who complain there is too much plastic packaging. It said it is working with suppliers and industry partners to reduce the amount of plastic used in packaging and other products.

‘Whole lifecycle’ costs?

While agreeing plastic waste is unacceptable, the Canadian plastics industry pushes back against attacks on a lightweight, cost-efficient product that extends the life of produce and supports food safety.

« I don’t think these companies are fully looking at the science, » said Joe Hruska, vice-president of sustainability at the Canadian Plastics Industry Association. « They are like any company, reacting to consumer pressure and the consumers just don’t know the facts. »

He points to a 2016 study by Trucost, an environmental data and risk analysis firm, that concludes replacing plastics with alternative materials would almost quadruple environmental costs because less plastic material is used « throughout the whole lifecycle » of the products.

Lesieur’s stainless steel vegetable oils and mayonnaise containers are designed for use with Loop. A major retailer is slated to launch a Canadian test of the reusable packaging system in the Toronto area this year. (Team Créatif/Lesieur/TerraCycle via AP)

Canadians generate about 3.25 million tonnes of plastic waste, or about 140,000 garbage trucks’ worth, each year, according to Greenpeace Canada.

Sarah King, head of an oceans and plastics campaign for the environmental group, says there’s too much reliance on improving the recyclability or increasing recycled content even though just 10 to 12 per cent of goods are recycled in Canada.

For too long, the onus has been unfairly placed on consumers to recycle better and dispose of things properly instead of requiring major corporations that produce the packaging to find alternatives, said King.

« We want to go back to a model that is more holistic and is more not so disposal-centric. »

Paris, New York debut 

Szaky said Loop puts the ownership of the containers back to manufacturers who will then be motivated to make packaging durable.

The system will launch in New York and Paris this spring.

Additional Canadian cities, likely starting in western provinces, will be added as a distribution network is built.

Loop is just one of many strategies that have to be implemented to tackle the problem, says Tony Walker, assistant professor at the School for Resource and Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University.

« There’s no one answer to this problem. It’s a very complex environmental challenge so there’s no one silver bullet. We just have to hit it with many solutions. »



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Anglais

Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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Anglais

9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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