Toronto business, consumers weigh in following plastic ban reversal

Click to play video: 'Toronto low-waste business unimpacted by plastics ban reversal'
Toronto low-waste business unimpacted by plastics ban reversal
WATCH: After a federal court quashed a cabinet order from Ottawa that banned single-use plastics, some downtown Toronto businesses working toward waste reduction say their operations will remain unchanged. Noor Ra’fat Ibrahim hears from one local business, and from community members. – Nov 17, 2023

Since Thursday, there’s been no shortage of talk about plastic across Canada.

The Federal Court overturned a ban on single-use plastics put in by the Trudeau government, making the future of plastic products in Canada murky.

On Danforth Avenue in Toronto, business is as usual at bare market.

“We opened in 2018 and since the first day, we have operated with an intent to reduce waste,” said Dayna Stein, owner of the low-waste market.

Everything from shampoo and makeup to toilet bowl cleaner and even olive oil is ordered in bulk, and customers are then asked to bring their own containers when purchasing.

If they don’t, they can buy reusable containers which can then be refunded when they’re returned.

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At the café inside the grocery store, there are no disposable  cups or straws, just reusable ceramic mugs and stainless steel utensils.

“We’ve gotten a lot of traction in the last five years because I think people shop here and realize how easy it is to make a positive impact, and they want to do it again,” said Stein.

The federal government has already said it plans to appeal the court’s ruling.

Click to play video: 'What does single-use plastics ban reversal mean for feds’ environmental policies?'
What does single-use plastics ban reversal mean for feds’ environmental policies?

Despite the outcome, the reversal meant damage was already done, according to Roxana Suehring.

“This back and forth is kind of like the worst you can do,” said the assistant professor and plastics researcher at Toronto Metropolitan University .

“You create uncertainty for businesses, like, ‘should I now invest into this new stuff or not?'”

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Many businesses that weren’t following a sustainable approach made strides to adhere to the ban, like ditching plastic bags and offering paper or reusable options.

Those changes came at a financial cost, said Suehring, and any new changes may mean more costs which could then be further downloaded onto the consumer.

“There’s going to be more anger and frustration because of that. And then, you’re actually not giving consumers a chance to adapt [to these changes].”
Click to play video: 'Poilievre responds to federal court decision overturning single-use plastic ban'
Poilievre responds to federal court decision overturning single-use plastic ban

Consumers in downtown Toronto appear divided on the recent court ruling.

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“I don’t believe in single-use plastics. The best thing [the government] can do is just keep them out of the landfills and out of the stores,” Ricardo told Global News Toronto on Friday.

Another passerby, Hermes, said he tries his best to use less single-use plastics, but feels individuals can’t make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.

“The emphasis on like straws and all this stuff, that you even see Trudeau place, I think blames the average Joe. It blames working-class people for the problems that are actually made by big corporations,” he said.

“I think if [single-use plastics] come back, its kind of hard not to use them,” Maddy told Global News.
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“But I want to work with animals and help fix the environment when I’m older … I’m going to try and continue to use reusable things.”

Suehring cautions that the reversal of the ban is a “huge step in the wrong direction” as the country tries to work towards a sustainable future.

She says the evidence is clear on the harm that plastics have on human health and the health of the planet, and failing to act means wasted time.

“I am very much hoping that this will be appealed, this decision,” she said.

Whether or not the ban will be reinstated won’t change the message of waste reduction that Stein is sending to other businesses.

“I don’t think its as scary as you think it is. And it can be done at a price point that’s very accessible.”

Click to play video: 'LEGO drops plan to make bricks from recycled bottles'
LEGO drops plan to make bricks from recycled bottles

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