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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

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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