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Montreal plays catch up on recycling

by Archives October 30, 2007

Last week, Montreal and the agglomeration council approved a 10-year, $12.6 million recycling-treatment contract, and proposed a $1-billion composting pick-up plan in an effort to change the way Montreal residents and municipalities dispose of their household waste.
The recycling contract, to Rebuts Solides Canadiens Inc., commits the city to more than doubling Montrealers’ recycling efforts within 10 years. Residents now put 103,000 tonnes of recyclable materials in their containers each year. The new recycling-treatment entails sending 225,000 tonnes of collective household waste for recycling instead of to landfills.
The city intends to distribute a larger 64 liter curbside box and more than one type of container is being considered to accommodate densely populated areas like the Plateau and the West Island. Large capacity, stand up containers on wheels are being considered for other areas, and clear plastic bags for household collection, like the ones already used in Montreal North and Verdun boroughs, are optional for municipalities.
“We’re on the cusp of some significant events, all of which will ultimately lead us down the path of greater waste diversion,” councillor Alan DeSousa, the city executive committee member responsible for sustainable development said.
“This recycling contract is one component – but a significant component – of an overall waste-management program that will be rolled out as fast as possible.”
The plan will also contain a household organic-waste pick-up component already implemented in cities like Halifax and Toronto, and over 26 U.S. cities. The $12.6-million cost of the new contract includes $11.6 million to dispose of garbage that gets mixed in with recyclables, and $200,000 a year for five years to promote recycling.
Apart from the benefits to the environment, taxpayers will have a financial stake in increasing the island’s recycling effort. The contract boasts a profit-sharing clause and commits Rebuts Solides Canadiens to split with the city any revenue from the sale of processed recyclable materials, such as cardboard and metal.
“Montrealers are more than ready and are keen on helping the environment,” said DeSousa. “We have this pent up energy when it comes to the environment.”
The day after the announcement of the new contract Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay told the provincial government that he now wants $1 billion so local municipalities can build composting facilities and pay for technologies to convert organic waste into energy.
Under Quebec’s targets for waste reduction, municipalities in the Montreal area are expected to compost 60 per cent of organic waste – from dinner leftovers to grass clippings – by 2012.
Montreal Municipal Community (MMC) figures show its municipalities now compost only eight per cent of the 337,000 tonnes of organic waste they generate a year. The composting project is in its proposal stages and DeSousa said that launching a municipal composting program isn’t as simple as issuing a contract for curbside organic-waste pickup. “How do you make compost out of organic waste? And do you do it in a closed facility to contain the smell?”
Answers can be found in other municipalities already expanding their waste management services. Cote St Luc last month started a pilot project picking up all garden and household organic waste–including meat and dairy products–to convert it into compost.
Five hundred single family homes in parts of C

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