Montreal To Ban Retailers from Trashing Unsold Food and Clothing

by | Oct 18, 2019

Montreal introduced a new plan on Thursday that calls for banning retailers in the city from sending unsold food and clothing to landfill.

The effort is part of the city’s broader objective to divert as much as 70% of waste from landfills by 2025 and 85% by 2030, according to the Canadian Press. City Councilor Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, the executive committee member responsible for waste management, told the outlet that there is an urgency to act because of climate change and the scheduled closure of Montreal’s primary dump by 2029.

“The plan that we’re proposing today will enable us to achieve the ambitious targets that we set in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and managing residual material,” she said. “We will prohibit large grocery chains, educational institutions, and hospitals from throwing away food they no longer think is fresh.”

Lalonde said the city won’t fine businesses that don’t comply — officials want to change mindsets instead, Global News reported. Rather than throwing out unsold clothes, retailers are being encouraged to recycle the items or donate them to those in need. Likewise, the city wants food retailers to either donate unsold food or compost it.

The French-Canadian television network TVA Nouvelles pointed to a 2016 report that found retailers in Montreal were cutting up unsold clothing and dumping it over trademark concerns. Journalists also found a tricycle still in its wrapping, bags of pre-packaged clothing hangers, and other items.

“On a moral level, it hurts to see that,” City Council member Jean-François Parenteau, who is in charge of citizen services, told the outlet. “We understand that businesses want to protect their trademark, but we are encouraging them to use other channels and sectors.”

The city established a similar waste diversion plan in the past, reporter Christopher Curtis wrote in the Montreal Gazette.

“In 2009, Montreal pledged to go from recycling and composting 31% of its waste to 80% by 2019,” he wrote. “According to numbers compiled by the city, about 47% of the 929,798 [metric tons] of waste produced each year is recycled — not an insignificant gain from a decade ago, but well short of the 80% mark.”

Curtis added that the new plan is expected to cost about $2 million ($1.52 million USD) to launch in 2020, followed by an additional $2 million ($1.52 million USD) in annual operating costs. The public will be asked to weigh in on the plan early next year, and the executive committee anticipates evaluating the recommendations in April.

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