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Could green equal green?

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's announcement Monday to ban harmful single-use plastics is a historic moment.

Canada is getting on board the international wave to help reduce plastic waste, the toll of which is becoming more apparent each day as horror stories from around the world make headlines.

Single-use plastics account for 40 percent of the plastic produced every year. While many of these products—whether it be plastic bags, food wrappers, or drinking straws—have a lifespan of mere minutes after you leave that fast food restaurant or get your groceries home, they may stick around in the environment for hundreds of years.

Single-use products including plastic plates, cutlery, cups, straws, plastic sticks in cotton swabs, balloon sticks and stir sticks, Styrofoam cups and take-out food containers, and oxo-degradeable plastics such as plastic grocery bags.

Nothing is going to be banned overnight. The process to implement a federal ban or limitations on a product under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act usually takes two to four years. The goal is to make decisions on everything on the list by 2021.

But in the meantime, eco-friendly alternatives will be needed and whomever can develop and manufacture those alternatives will create new jobs and economic growth, possibly even here in Northwestern Ontario where wood fibre—if we can access it—is plentiful.

Paper bags. Wooden cotton swabs for your ears. Disposable wooden utensils instead of plastic forks and knives at your picnic. Paper straws at every fast food joint. Wood pulp cellophane.

The sky's the limit, but the key is to act now.

—Duane Hicks

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