Compost bins and public education part of Montreal's zero-waste strategy

The city plans to educate the public on the importance of reducing food waste, but how that will work during the COVID-19 crisis remains to be seen.

City will require companies vying for waste management contracts to be transparent about their emission levels

Half a million households in Montreal have brown bins, but the city says everyone will have one by 2025. (Craig Desson/CBC)

The City of Montreal wants to reduce single-use plastic, divert waste from landfills and educate the public about how to cut down on food waste, according to its newly adopted, five-year waste management plan.

"I think the action that will have the most impact is when we will give a compost bin to every citizen in Montreal," said Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, the executive committee member responsible for ecological transition.

About half a million households in Montreal are composting currently, she said, but the goal is to extend that to all households by 2025. 

The city intends to teach the public how to properly dispose of food waste and recyclable materials, but how exactly that will work during the COVID-19 crisis remains to be seen, said Lavigne Lalonde. 

"I think we have a lot of education to do, and it's our responsibility, the City of Montreal, to explain to people why that is important," she said. 

The city also plans to reduce single-use plastics, encouraging Montrealers to either use reusable goods, recycle or compost their waste accordingly.

The burden to reduce waste will not fall solely on the shoulders of citizens — Lavigne Lalonde said the city will also:

  • Push the provincial government for a better bottle consignment plan.
  • Require waste management companies vying for city contracts to be transparent about the amount of greenhouse gases they produce.
  • Aim to divert 85 per cent of collected waste from landfills by 2030.

The city strategy, which was first proposed in October, went through a series of consultations. The David Suzuki Foundation was one of the organizations that presented recommendations during those consultations.

The foundation's chief of science projects, Louise Hénault-Ethier, said she was thrilled the city adopted her suggestions. 

"This plan is very ambitious, it is exactly where we need to be going," she said.

Waste is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the province, according to Hénault-Ethier, and she believes the program will help reduce those emissions.


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