Consumers play major role in shift to ban plastics, say environmental groups

Consumers have a significant role to play in Canada's move to ban single-use plastics like straws and cutlery by the end of 2021, say environmentalists.

"There has to be a shift, and that shift has to come actually where individuals have to start avoiding using these plastic elements and that we go back to a cutlery that can be washed," said Colleen Thorpe of environmental group Equiterre.

Grocery stores in Montreal are no stranger to a ban on plastic bags, but cellophane is still commonly used to wrap meat and produce.

While cellophane can be composted, it can also release methane.

It will require a change – or maybe a look to the past, said Tony Esposito of Marche Esposito.

"People shop with their eyes," he said. "When I was growing up, we'd have a meat counter, and you'd come in ask for your cut. It would be wrapped in brown paper. But you'd choose it, and then it would be wrapped, so you saw what you were getting."

The ban is a step in the right direction, said Thorpe.

"We've produced products with plastic in a cheap manner, and it's been cheap to use them, but then we've offloaded the cost of using plastics to society," she said.   

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