Nova Scotia recently banned single-use plastic bags

Purush Cannane says he’s a step closer to making the earth a better place.

“I delivered my first leftover newspaper rolls to a seller that uses eco-friendly materials for packaging. We both feel very good now,” Cannane, the owner of Halifax-based Greenii Inc., said in an interview with The Signal after distributing his rolls in Dartmouth on Monday.

“It is serving a purpose.”

Cannane has been recovering waste paper and selling handmade paper bags to a number of small retailers in Nova Scotia since 2019. He said he saw this opportunity when Prime Minister announced in 2019 that the government is looking at options to limit the use of harmful single-use plastics.

Many small businesses in Halifax are building eco-friendly products and solutions. The Tare Shop in Halifax is a business already contributing to the effort to fight climate change. Owner Kate Pepler said the store offers no packaging for a range of products it sells to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags. The package-free model may not be a “be-all, end-all solution” for the climate crisis but is definitely a starting point to create more awareness, she said.

“We are in times of crisis of not just global pandemic but also climate change,” Pepler said in an interview.

“Just like folks have adjusted to wearing masks, more people will catch on very quickly to bringing their own reusable bags or paper bags offered by businesses.”

Due to the pandemic, The Tare Shop went digital and started packing dry products with paper bags and liquids with glass jars for all of its online orders.

Pepler said although recycling plastic is unavoidable by many businesses in the current situation,  people need to move away from plastics in all forms because it’s not a “perfect solution.”

Nova Scotia recently banned single-use plastic bags, prompting many Halifax retailers to go plastic-free last month. “Businesses can offer reusable bags to their customers or ask them to bring their own,” the province said. “This is the best way to protect our environment.”

Pepler said she thinks Cannane’s business of repurposing waste paper and making paper bags is another “great initiative” to preserve natural resources.

Halifax entrepreneur 'serving a purpose' one paper bag at a time
Paper bags created by Greenii Inc.   Submitted: Purush Cannane

Cannane said he believes his knowledge in mechanical engineering and passion for the environment have helped him come up with “a sustainable solution” to an ecological problem. He said his products are better alternatives to traditional paper bags, including Kraft bags, sold in supermarkets.

“Kraft bags consume a lot of energy, resources, water, oil and bleaching. It emits tons of carbon dioxide,” he said.

Cannane faces operational challenges, such as co-ordinating with suppliers and managing shipping costs. He said the semi-automatic machine he’s working on to help speed up production of his bags will mitigate pricing concerns in the longer term.

Cannane hopes automation can scale his business beyond Nova Scotia. He wants to take every opportunity to protect a tree from being cut into paper bags.

“We’re adding a huge value to the waste,” he said.  “A tree saved is a tree planted.”

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