Zero waste -- for a whole city? Montreal says it's possible within 10 years under new plan
MONTREAL -- Zero waste: it’s an ambitious goal for any one person, let alone for a city. But Montreal wants to get there, or close to there, by 2030 -- and it says it’s within reach.
Montreal is one of 40 cities around the world that has made a promise to divert 70 per cent of its waste, but that wasn’t enough.
“We said, that’s really cute, but we are going to go further, and so we decided to take the objective to divert from landfills 85 per cent,” said Lavigne Lalonde of the City of Montreal Executive Committee.
The city’s newly adopted action plan is “very ambitious,” says one climate advocate, but that’s what’s needed right now.
“It’s perfectly aligned with the reality of fighting climate change that we have,” said Louise Hénault-Ethier, head of science projects at the David Suzuki Foundation.
The plan includes having all households using compost bins by 2025, including large apartment buildings—a difficulty the province also announced it was trying to tackle earlier this spring.
It also pushes for manufacturers, businesses and citizens to cut down on single-use plastics, and it requires companies applying for city contracts to be up-front about their greenhouse gas emissions.
Opposition politicians say this seems laudable, but it’s unclear if Montreal will have the facilities needed to meet these goals.
“We had a plan where we had to build five facilities for the entire Island of Montreal,” said Francesco Miele, the city councillor for Cote-de-Liesse.
“They're going ahead with only two.”
The city has plans for new recycling and composting plants that it says will be completed in the coming years.
Right now, with over half the city’s waste going to landfills, a big part of the focus should be on getting Montrealers to change their habits, said Hénault-Ethier.
Food waste, when it goes into a landfill, creates huge volumes of the potent greenhouse gas methane as it decomposes. When it's treated in a composting facility this can be avoided.
“If you throw it in a landfill, it’s going to increase greenhouse gases, so I think we have a lot of education to do and it's our responsibilty, the City of Montreal, to explain to people why that is important,” said Hénault-Ethier.