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Metro grocery stores in Quebec will allow customers to shop with reusable containers

A major Quebec grocery store chain is taking a step toward reducing single-use plastic packaging.

Metro has announced that starting next Monday, it will allow customers in Quebec to use their own reusable containers for ready-to-eat meals, meat, seafood and pastries.

Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, says Metro's decision is a game changer.

"It was just a matter of time before we saw a main grocer moving forward on this issue," Charlebois told CBC Montreal's Daybreak. "It's really good news for the industry — it is now a benchmark."

He says Metro is the first major grocery store chain in Canada to allow reusable containers. So far, concerns about food safety have stopped companies like Loblaws and Sobeys from following suit, Charlebois says.

Metro has to follow specific conditions set out by Quebec's Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Customers must ensure their containers have been properly washed, and that there are no logos or bar codes on them, according to Charlebois.

Charlebois says food retailers are being pressured by increased interest in the zero-waste lifestyle.

Companies might look at long-term solutions to ensure food safety, like providing equipment to clean people's reusable containers in the store, he said.

"It's just a matter of time before we see provinces and municipalities support these kinds of policies," Charlebois said.

He says retailers are already making small changes to reduce plastics in grocery stores.

"They're slow, but this announcement from Metro is a game changer for not only Quebec, but for Canada."