Tribune Explains: How to dispose effectively

The phrase “reduce, reuse, and recycle” is a staple of many elementary school classrooms. Students are often told to recycle their paper and plastic items, unaware that if they do so incorrectly, the whole batch of recycling can end up in a landfill. With the consequences of climate change becoming increasingly severe, the City of Montreal hopes to enforce proper garbage and recycling practices. By recycling correctly, residents can aid in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing energy consumption. For those confused about the correct way to go about trash day, The McGill Tribune has a guide to proper waste management. 

What should I know for trash day? 

The City of Montreal strives for clean streets, but on a windy day, your trash may end up strewn across the curb. To prevent this, the city recommends placing all garbage in either a 65 x 90 centimetre trash bag that weighs no more than 25 kilogrammes and has no holes, or in a tightly closed regulation garbage can. Montreal garbage pick-up days differ depending on where you live, so make sure to follow your pick-up schedule

What can I recycle?

Montreal, unlike some cities, makes recycling quick and easy. Paper, cardboard, glass, metal, and plastic are all recyclable. Some items commonly mistaken as recyclable include pizza boxes, take-out containers, meat trays, styrofoam, photos, rubber, No. 6 plastic, and porcelain. The city asks that residents prepare their items for recycling carefully: Though they do not require you to sort these items, they do ask that you thoroughly rinse cans and jars to prevent mould, smells, and animals from invading the bins. To find out dates and times for recycling in any Montreal borough, students can go to Info-collectes and enter their postal code. Additionally, many stores, including Provigo, offer cash back for glass bottles or other recyclable items in addition to regular recycling pick-up. The program, called Consignation in Quebec, creates a win-win situation by ensuring that items will be recycled correctly while providing you with a little extra grocery money. 

What should I know about composting? 

In recent years, Montreal has begun taking steps to turn food scraps into compost. Composting food scraps saves water, helps soil hold moisture, and reduces runoff water. Recycling organic resources also helps conserve landfill space. This year, residential buildings in the northeast sector of the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood received food-waste collection bins. If you live in this area, make sure to only compost food scraps and biodegradable items like houseplants and soil. Students outside of this area looking to shop more sustainably can purchase compostable items to help ease the strain on the city’s landfills. Some paper food packages, dishes, paper towels, and tablecloths are also compostable and can make for better buys. Several large- and small-scale Montreal businesses are joining the fight by committing to using reusable serving materials and have managed to eliminate vast amounts of non-compostable and non-recyclable waste. McGill has also joined the movement with biodegradable materials and composting stations in all dining halls, as well as ending the sale of plastic water bottles in vending machines. 

What types of waste need special disposal? 

Some hazardous waste requires special attention to be properly disposed of. Paint, batteries, aerosol cans, medication, compact fluorescent bulbs, and other chemical and electronic products are not safe to toss in the garbage bin. Luckily, Montreal has the perfect solution, with seven ecocentres located around the city. These centres offer free access with just a government ID and proof of residence and help ensure Montreal residents are doing all they can to reduce waste, alleviate the stress on our landfills, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

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