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The Be Green Beer Challenge!

So here's the deal:
Bud Light is the sponsor for the street of St Catherine this summer. There's been a fair bit of controversy there already (owing to how the deal involves each bar and restaurant being required to buy a certain quota of Bud Light). But that's a whole other story.

No, the heavy hitters in this ball game are in fact the Borough of Ville Marie and you, the public!
Stay with me here. I'll explain.

Picture this: you order a drink on St Catherine. If you happen to be sitting INSIDE the bar or restaurant, chances are you'll get served in a glass glass (i.e. the washable, breakable, eco-friendly variety). If you're outside on the terrace however, you'll probably be drinking your sangria or beer out of a plastic cup. Why the difference? Turns out it's a by-law. A public safety issue. Breakable glasses are forbidden because they can be a hazard.
Seems perfectly reasonable (if not really green). But then there's THIS:
Some restos continue to use glass glasses for everything inside and out on terraces. And some serve wine in glass glasses and everything else in plastic.


Are you having trouble with this? I know I am. So I called the Borough of Ville Marie for a clarification. A lovely man called Jacques-Alain Lavallée (he's in charge of communications with citizens and media types) said this:
"Some have restaurant permits and others have bar permits. Those that have bar permits are not allowed to
use glass but those that have restaurant permits ca use alternatively glass or plastic."

Erm... How does this address the issue of public safety? Are restaurants with drinking patrons somehow safer than bars who serve drinks and snacks? And if the patrons themselves are the issue, then why are bars allowed to serve beer and other drinks in real glasses INSIDE the bar (just not on the terrace)? And honestly, on a closed off terrace, is public safety REALLY an issue like it would be in more crowded situations like a ballpark or stadium?
Please leave me a comment or call our talkback line: (514) 597-5626
I really want to know what you think!

And just when I was about to despair about the whole situation, I find out:
That all those free glasses that Bud Light keeps supplying the bar owners? They used to be Number 6 plastic. i.e. not even recyclable. The latest batch that came in last week: compostable!
Could it be that St Catherine is taking the Be Green Challenge already! Before any intervention?
Write me and tell me what you think! Especially about the issue of public safety.
And keep sending in those challenge ideas!

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Comments (4)

Volker Schmoee


Ok , I understand public safety, but you can go to a corner store and purchase bottled beer or iced tea in a glass bottle... even consume the non-alcoholic beverage--that's okay?
The terrace is closed in, so if something breaks, just sweep it up like you do inside.
Take a deposit for a glass like they do in Europe. It is just stupid this whole deal: Bar, resto--what's the difference? What we need is more responsible people who care for the Earth and stop drinking from the one-way cups.

Posted July 29, 2008 06:13 PM

Ian Brown


It makes no sense at all to link the plastic/no plastic law to whether the bar/restaurant holds a bar only or a restaurant/bar license. In fact there is probably a stronger correlation between time of day or price of drink to whether or not the glass or plastic is likely to become a weapon or projectile. Generally, I think if you treat people like animals they'll eventually learn to behave like animals! I think Montreal is capable of more than that, and for the good of the city and the environment the "plastic on terraces if they only hold a bar license" should be rescinded.

By the way, Geeta, I think your spot on the show is really cool. It's generally the one part that is not just a repetition of what you would see on just about any channel at this time of night.

Ian Brown

Posted July 29, 2008 07:02 PM

K Sermat


Compostable glasses? Now if we only had municipal composting like so many major NA cities already offer, this might actually have some meaning and impact. Otherwise, it's just more window-dressing...

Posted August 8, 2008 09:30 AM

M Leckner


As for the plastic vs. glass issue, it makes no sense. I can (reluctantly) understand if at a huge festival, like the Jazz fest that the kiosks use disposable cups since they couldn't manage the logistics of so many real glasses and that could become a hazard (bring your OWN reusable mug people), but on the Terrasses? That makes no sense. You are drinking at the resto or bar. There is no reason why they can't use glass. People are not leaving with the glasses. If it's a matter of public safety, why not ban everything, everywhere. You can't stop someone from taking something like glass onto the street to harm people unless you ban the sale of glass altogether. While they're at it, we should have to sign for credit cards with crayons because a pen can be used to stab someone...
And as for the compostable cups? I'm no expert but I have a feeling that they don't properly compost in landfills, so they aren't much better than #6 plastic. Can they be recycled? If yes, ARE they being recycled? I doubt it. Can you say greenwash? Hopefully I'm wrong in this case...

Posted September 28, 2008 02:55 AM

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