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Tracking Amazon returns; a single-use plastic ban: CBC's Marketplace Cheat Sheet

CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need from the week.

Consumer and health news you need from the week

A Marketplace investigation into Amazon returns found that some of them don't make it back to the company's virtual shelves. (Norm Arnold/CBC)

Miss something this week? Don't panic. CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

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We're back with an all-new season

Most of us now are online shoppers and with the pandemic, buying remotely has actually doubled in Canada. Nearly half of us do something called "bracketing" — where you buy multiple items with the intent to return at least some of them. So what happens to all those returns? You might figure they simply get resold to someone else. Think again.

We went on an online shopping spree on Amazon, the e-commerce goliath. And then we returned all the items, except with location trackers secretly placed inside. It's a fascinating journey — and not one that always ends back at Amazon's fulfillment centres.

You can catch the full investigation — learning what liquidators really do with Amazon returns sold at auction, and seeing where the tracked returns were sent — on CBC Gem.

It makes you think twice about bracketing, and about the claims from Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, that his company is going green and reducing its carbon footprint.

— David Common and the Marketplace team

To find out where online returns are ending up, Marketplace producers hid trackers inside a dozen Amazon items and then returned them to the online giant. (Anu Singh/CBC)

Say goodbye to plastic grocery bags, cutlery and straws

Get ready for some big changes at grocery stores and restaurants across the country starting next year. The Liberal government announced this week that a ban on some single-use plastics will go into effect by the end of 2021.

"Your local stores will be providing you with alternatives to these plastic products, like reusable or paper bags in place of plastic," said Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. Read more

In 2019, Marketplace went to Malaysia and found that Canadian plastic recycling was being dumped and burned overseas.

The end is coming for plastic grocery bags, straws, cutlery, stir sticks, six-pack rings and takeout food containers made from hard-to-recycle plastics. (CBC Graphics)

Confused about Thanksgiving this year? You're not alone

The second wave of COVID-19 is hitting Ontario and Quebec with full force. But many people are still confused about what to do for turkey dinner this year. In some parts of the country, gatherings might be possible, but in harder-hit areas, you'll want to be more careful. "If you are in Ontario and Quebec, I think the most sensible thing to do is to keep to your immediate social circles," says Dr. Theresa Tam. Read more

Canadians are trying to decipher confusing advice from public health officials about what kind of gathering, if any, is appropriate and safe for Thanksgiving. (wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)

It's been one year since Devan Selvey was killed at his high school. What's changed? 

The 14-year-old's stabbing sparked conversations about bullying all across Canada. But are things different now? It remains to be seen.

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) responded by setting up a panel to review four areas of bullying — prevention, intervention, reporting and responding. But the final report, which was initially supposed to be delivered by May 31, was delayed by COVID-19. Read more

In 2019, Marketplace investigated school violence and conducted a survey that found that four in 10 boys are physically assaulted at school.

Photos of Devan Selvey sit among stuffed animals, flowers and messages of support at a memorial outside the 14-year-old's Hamilton home following his death on Oct. 7, 2019. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

She found a broken needle in her spine. How did it get there?

It was a medical error that took more than a decade to discover — after medical staff at the time failed to report it. Now, Giovanna Ippolito wants answers, but experts say with a system that's stacked against Canadians harmed by medical errors, it's likely no one will have to take responsibility. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, more than 132,000 patients experienced some kind of medical harm in 2018-19. Read more

An X-ray shows the five-centimetre-long partial needle stuck in Giovanna Ippolito's spine — a mistake discovered years after she gave birth that medical staff at the time failed to report. (Submitted by Giovanna Ippolito)

What else is going on?

Netflix hikes some subscriber plans in Canada again 
The standard monthly plan is going up by $1 to $14.99, and the premium by $2 to $18.99.

For many workers, reduced hours or pay cuts beat pandemic layoffs
WestJet pilots agreed to take a 50 per cent hit to their compensation to help preserve jobs.

Health Canada recalls eye drops that claimed to contain human placenta from Edmonton business
The eye drops were being sold at the Calgary Trail Vision Centre.

Few provinces still resisting COVID Alert app as new features under consideration
Quebec becomes sixth province to launch exposure notification app, with N.S. and P.E.I. not far behind.

These CB2 tables have been recalled
The table legs could collapse during moving or use, posing an injury hazard.

Marketplace needs your help

CBC Marketplace is looking for people who have experienced racism in real estate. Have you received a low appraisal? Removed cultural objects to stage your home? We want to hear from you. Email us at marketplace@cbc.ca

Catch up on past episodes of Marketplace any time on CBC Gem.

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