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How a single use plastics bans will effect Canadian convenience

CTM-Inbound-Blog-June2019-SingleUsePlastic-FIn 2019, the Government of Canada announced a plan to ban single-use plastics in this country by 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is a dire crisis that requires action.

“You’ve all heard the stories and seen the photos,” he said. “To be honest, as a dad it is tough trying to explain this to my kids. How do you explain dead whales washing up on beaches across the world, their stomachs jam-packed with plastic bags? “How do I tell them that against all odds, you will find plastic at the very deepest point in the Pacific Ocean?”

The government announcement did not provide a detailed list of banned items. Trudeau indicated this would be forthcoming, based on scientific evidence. However, the Prime Minister did give examples of items in their sites: including several that would directly impact Canadian convenience stores.

1. Replacing plastic drinking straws

When a heartbreaking video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw in its nose went viral in 2015, it became a rallying point for a ban on single-use plastics. Starbucks and several other companies soon announced they would no longer be carrying plastic straws. It is a trend that does not appear to be waning.

In Canada alone, it is estimated close to 50 million straws are used daily. Whether a ban goes through or not, c-store owners would be wise to start looking at options: including paper, bamboo, biodegradable silicone and other materials.

2. Options to plastic cups, lids, plates, utensils and stir sticks

While cups were not specifically mentioned, all of these other items were listed by Trudeau as likely item to be banned – all of which figure quiet prominently in the average c-store operation. It is predicted there would be pressure to include polystyrene cups and plates as well.

Paper cups and plates are a logical option, as are wooden stir sticks. Products made of palm leaves and sugarcane exist. Companies around the world have even developed biodegradable, organic alternatives (some of which are edible).

3. Rethinking packaging

It has been speculated that plastic sandwich bags and plastic wrap could be included in a ban. This may affect how fresh items such as sandwiches are packaged. Disposable plastic and Styrofoam packaging may also be in the crosshairs of any ban. Expect to see paper and cardboard packaging pick up the slack.

4. Eliminating plastic bags

Up to 15 billion plastic bags are used in Canada each year. Many leading retailers have been charging customers for plastic bags for years (although most consumers shrug and pay the nickel). An outright ban would require consumers to change their mindset, and keep reusable bags handy. C-store may have to keep a supply in stock (a potential new revenue stream!)

5. Greater recycling of plastic bottles

The ocean is literally littered with plastic bottles. Organizations such as Greenpeace are calling for the phaseout of throwaway plastics – including disposable bottles. Water bottles, in particular, raise the ire of activists, as alternatives are easily available. Yet these bottles are easily recyclable.

While it is unclear what Canada would do, in the European Union, the focus is on increasing recycling more bottles vs. a ban – with a target of recycling 90% of plastic bottles by 2025. In Canada, it is estimated 65 million water bottles end up in landfills each year.

McDonald’s Canada takes an early leadership role

If you suppose the shift will be gradual, think again.

Following the PM’s declaration, McDonald’s Canada announced its first “Green Concept Restaurants” as part of its sustainability journey.

Their goal is to source 100% of all guest packaging from renewable and/or recycled materials. Two restaurants in Vancouver and London (ON) will serve as the testing ground for these packaging and recycling initiatives.

Initial packaging innovations will include Canada’s first recyclable paper cup for cold beverages, recyclable wood fiber lids (that actually double as a straw!), wooden cutlery and paper straws.

“Our Green Concept Restaurants are an exciting new innovation as part of our on-going sustainable journey,” says John Betts, President, and CEO at McDonald’s Canada.

“They are an example of how we’re able to use our scale for good and keep raising the bar on what it means to be a responsible company committed to people and the planet.”

According to James Downham, president, and CEO, PAC Packaging Consortium, when category leaders such McDonald’s spearhead change, you can be sure the shift will be felt across the industry as packaging companies jump to respond.

“We’re in a game-changing moment as industries across the planet evolve to offer consumers more sustainable packaging options. It’s incredible to see leading organizations such as McDonald’s lead the way to catalyze this change by trying new, innovative solutions to operate more sustainably and tend to our planet.”

An issue worth following

At this point, the Canadian plastic ban is merely a policy announcement. Regardless, consumers are increasingly choosing to support businesses that operate in an environmentally responsible manner. With juggernauts like McDonald’s staking their future on sustainability, the onus will be on the convenience store industry and its suppliers to adapt.

Click here to learn more from CTM Design Services Ltd. 

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Washroom design: From icky to inviting with CTM Design Services

5 washroom trends to drive traffic to your c-store

Modern bathrooms make a fresh impression with customers. 

unnamedUntil recently, the gas station washroom served a strictly utilitarian role. They were simple, plain, nothing flashy. Yet, with neglect, many had developed a reputation for being grungy – something to avoid except in the case of extreme emergency (particularly among female customers).

With the new focus on providing a higher-end service offering (such as gourmet coffee bars and in-store restaurants), standards and expectations have changed when it comes to the state of your biffy.  People are demanding a higher level of finishes and features – and a renewed focus on cleanliness. Operators who fail to modernize their washrooms risk flushing business down the drain (pardon the pun).

The changes we’ve seen in recent years have been dramatic. Many washrooms are incorporating touches of home. When discussing some of the washrooms he’d seen, one of our C-Store owners recently commented, “Some look like what you’d expect in a 5-star hotel.”

Fortunately, new laminate and tile finishes allow you to create a luxurious looking bathroom without the luxury price tag. That being said, we are also noticing that some owners are not shying away from elegant touches like granite countertops, framed mirrors, and even decorative waterfalls. These things have a high initial price tag but are often part of a larger image building strategy.

CTM’s design team can show you a variety of the latest countertops, cabinets, fixtures, tiles and flooring choices that can instantly elevate your washroom in the eyes of customers. At the same time, we focus on what is most important to you: a practical, long-lasting, easy to clean solution that fits your budget.

Here are five washroom trends we have noticed when it comes to your convenience store:

1. Tap handles are so 2010

Touchless technology is considered the defining feature of a modern washroom.

It was primarily developed for sanitary purposes – to reduce the spread of germs and bacteria that come from contact with taps, toilet handles, and towel dispensers.

However, as touchless technology has grown, many customers have come to appreciate the convenience and the “cool factor” of sleekly designed products such as the Dyson Airblade. Or the Bradley sink, which has a touchless tap, soap dispenser, and hand dryer build right into the sink – eliminating the need to walk around with wet hands.

Removing towels and containing soap to the sink is not only nice for the customers, but also make it easier for your staff to keep the washroom clean.

2. Doorless washrooms?

You’ve seen them in airports and malls… now doorless washrooms are coming to convenience stores and restaurants.

By removing doors, you eliminate the germs that can come from touching door handles. The reason owners like them is that they respect the privacy of customers, yet the airy, open design reduces loitering and discourages graffiti and vandalism.

While incredibly modern, this style of washroom design does require more space.

3. Designer toilets… designed for easy cleaning

At one time, all toilets were pretty much the same. Today we’re seeing a wide variety of designs in all shapes and sizes. For ease of cleaning, many convenience store owners are excited by new models that are wall mounted vs. floor mounted. With no base, these toilets make mopping a breeze.

Today’s toilets are also being designed to minimalize nooks and crannies: so they are easier to wipe down. A big bonus for you and your staff.

4. Divide and conquer

To discourage aspiring artists and authors, we’re starting to see new stall dividers made of scratch and graffiti resistant materials. Expect to see more options in the near future.

5. Added touches

From scent systems to candles to artwork, there are a million little things you can do to make a your washroom feel clean, contemporary and well cared for.

We’ll end with this little rule of thumb… if you’d be embarrassed to let a house guest see your washroom, you should be alarmed to have a customer view it.

Today more than ever, customers will judge you and your business on the state of your bathroom. If you don’t meet their standards and expectations, they’ll choose to go somewhere that does.

It’s one more way to design your convenience store for success.

Click here to learn more from CTM Design Services Ltd. 

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