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‘People are innovative’: Trudeau says restaurants can adapt to single-use plastics

Click to play video 'Ottawa pushes ahead with its plan to ban single-use plastics by the end of 2021' Ottawa pushes ahead with its plan to ban single-use plastics by the end of 2021
WATCH: Ottawa pushes ahead with its plan to ban single-use plastics by the end of 2021.

The Trudeau government’s plan to ban single-use plastics by the end of 2021 is in motion, meaning restaurants that rely on takeout orders amid the coronavirus pandemic may have to change their delivery packaging.

And the ban comes at a time when many restaurants rely on delivery and takeout orders to keep their businesses afloat amid coronavirus closures.

Read more: Ottawa pushing ahead with plan to ban single-use plastics by end of 2021

On Oct. 7, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced the timeline on the ban, adding that Canadians have increased their use of plastics during the pandemic. He said this was among the considerations made by the government in preparing the list of six items to be banned, which includes plastic grocery bags, stir sticks, six-pack rings, utensils, straws and some food ware made of hard-to-recycle plastics.

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But switching from plastics to alternatives can be expensive. And for restaurants already trying to stay afloat during the pandemic, adding another layer of expenses may be difficult.

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau believes the industry can adapt.

“I am young enough to remember when my Big Mac came in a styrofoam container and people made changes toward cardboard,” he said while speaking on 680 CJOB News on Wednesday morning.

“People are very innovative in terms of that. What Canadians know is that there is far too much plastic going into our landfills and not being recycled. That needs to be cleaned up. It’s a commitment we made two years ago,” Trudeau added.

Click to play video 'Study shows some Canadian consumers opt for more single-use plastic during pandemic' Study shows some Canadian consumers opt for more single-use plastic during pandemic
Study shows some Canadian consumers opt for more single-use plastic during pandemic

The prime minister said his government has been working with industry partners to find replacements for these single-use plastics.

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“I mean stir sticks — we know lots of people are using wooden and cardboard stir sticks instead of plastic ones. This is something people understand. … Moving forward on a ban on harmful plastics — its time has come,” he said.

Since the coronavirus pandemic spiked in March, Canadians have been purchasing more single-use plastics, according to a report out of Dalhousie University in August.

Read more: Kingston businesses react to federal ban on single-use plastics

The report found that 29 per cent of respondents said they were buying more single-use plastics because of the pandemic, with that number highest at 47 per cent among Canadians aged 18 to 25.

“That may be because younger consumers ordered more pre-prepared foods from restaurants and meal kit providers than other consumers,” the report stated.

— With files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly