Montreal

22 Montreal schools to start composting as part of city's zero-waste project

City says pilot project will gather data on how much organic waste schools produce to expand the program to all Montreal schools by 2025.

All Montreal schools will get organic waste pickup by 2025, city says

Gaeda Kabir, 10, helped convince her school to start composting. The city is following suit with a pilot project for 22 schools on the island. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

Fourth-grader Gaeda Kabir and her classmates are part of a new "green brigade" at their Verdun elementary school that teaches other students how and why to compost.

And the City of Montreal is now building off initiatives like that brigade by launching a composting pilot project in 22 schools across the island over the next year.

The project was announced at Gaeda's school, Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix, on Thursday, as part of the city's five-year "zero waste" plan.

"The children were asking their schools, were asking their boroughs to be a part of this," said Coun. Laurence Lavigne-Lalonde, the city's executive committee member responsible for environmental transition and resilience. 

"We think the youth are really great ambassadors for changing our behaviours."

Lavigne-Lalonde said the city wants to collect data to know just how much organic waste schools produce, so that it can provide them with enough bins. 

The pilot project will last until 2025, after which she said the city will provide compost collection for all Montreal schools. The city's hope is that composting in schools will help it reach its goal of reducing landfill waste by 85 per cent by 2030. 

Gaeda, 10, says she brought up composting at school "because I noticed the climate change and other stuff, so I really wanted to help."

A number of other schools already compost, but do not rely on the city for collection.

Verdun borough Mayor Jean-François Parenteau, left, poses with students at Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix elementary school along with principal Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Coun. Laurence Lavigne-Lalonde. (CBC)

The principal of Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix, Jean-Pierre Nicolas, said his school wanted to find a way to do it through official channels.

The school has been composting for a few weeks already with the city's help, starting with its after-school daycare program.

He said students started asking about how they could start composting last spring.

"I couldn't do it alone, so I went to see my collaborators; I went to the school board and, after, the mayor of Verdun," Nicolas told reporters.

After a week of composting just at the daycare, Nicolas said the school used four fewer garbage bags — going from 32 to 28. 

With reporting by Elias Abboud

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