By 2015, the City of Montreal should have reached a recycling rate of 70 per cent -- a goal set by the provincial government in its action plan for household waste -- but in reality, Montreal's recycling rate has barely even attained its 2008 goal of 60 per cent. In the 2014 report on waste collection, which is released every second year, the recycling rate remains stagnant at 58.3 per cent -- a mere 0.3 per cent increase from 2012.
In a Montreal Gazette article published on Sep. 2 of this year, Réal Ménard, the executive committee member in charge of the city's environment portfolio, said that overall, the 2014 report is positive but there is still much work to be done. "Globally, we are sending less garbage to landfill sites," he explained. "We have to obviously continue our actions to encourage citizens to recycle more and participate in the new collection of food waste."
But what both Mr. Menard and the report fail to expand upon are the adverse effects that some municipal bylaws have on the City of Montreal's sustainable practices; for instance, in the borough of Saint-Leonard, the city does not distribute recycling bins to businesses or arrange pick-up of any kind -- rather, business owners must hire their own private recycling service. As a result, recycling is simply not a priority due to the costs and planning involved.
Since the City of Montreal's recycling rates are not increasing rapidly enough, then the focus must be shifted from urging residents to recycle to implementing a recycling plan for business establishments. In the 1998 Canadian Waste Management Guide for small and medium businesses, it stated that the Quebec government was relying on the direct contribution of small businesses to reach their 2008 objective, and that as a result, businesses executives should expect to see new requirements and constraints added to the ones they were already facing on a daily basis. And yet nearly 18 years later, in an age in which sustainable development is increasingly acknowledged in everyday life, the province's most populated, international city is allowing some of its boroughs to pass bylaws that diminish the value and urgency of controlling our city's waste management -- that's more than 58,000 establishments in industry, businesses, and institutions that could/should be contributing towards the City of Montreal's objective to achieve a 70 per cent recycling rate.
In a blurb published on ville.montreal.qc.ca under the Montréal Community Sustainable Development Plan subsection, it states that their goal for 2019 is to recover 80 per cent of recyclable and organic materials, in accordance with the Municipal Waste Management Master Plan. Their most notable action plans are the collection of various recyclable materials, the distribution of new recycling bins, and the implementation of a program that eliminates residue from residential construction, renovations, and demolition. In another generic statement, it adds "of course, reduction at the source is still the most effective means to reduce the amount of residual materials produced...All sectors of activity can contribute to reducing residual materials slated for elimination by implementing their own recovery programs."
With the City of Montreal still behind 12.7 per cent from achieving its 2014 goal, it is infeasible to reach its 2019 objective of an 80 per cent recycling rate -- a 22 per cent increase from today -- without executing more austere measures.