The city of Montreal unveiled a plan Thursday to divert nearly 85 per cent of its waste away from landfills by 2030. Enviro Connexions, the Terrebonne site that collects 40 per cent of Montreal’s waste, will shutter its doors in 10 years. Meanwhile, China — which once welcomed thousands of containers filled with Montreal’s discarded paper — has closed its markets to shipping.

The plan calls for each Montrealer to reduce the amount of garbage they throw away by about 10 kilograms each year and eliminate single-use plastic. New bylaws will crack down on clothing manufacturers that throw out unsold items. Also, by incentivizing grocery chains to donate food to food banks and to compost what they must throw out, the city hopes to reduce food waste by 50 per cent in the next decade. “These are ambitious goals, but we have no choice; we absolutely have no choice but to act,” said Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, the executive committee member in charge of waste management.

“We’re inviting all Montrealers to be a part of this ecological transition.”

The city wants 100 per cent of schools and large apartment buildings on the island to be composting by 2025. More than 20 schools will participate in a composting pilot project starting next year, and the city said it will begin to improve the way it collects organic waste in 2020.

The revamp of its composting system is expected to cost about $1 million to implement, and its annual cost is being capped at $5.2 million, according to documents provided by the city. If some of these targets sound familiar, it’s because the city made similar promises in the past. In 2009, Montreal pledged to go from recycling and composting 31 per cent of its waste to 80 per cent by 2019.

According to numbers compiled by the city, about 47 per cent of the 929,798 tonnes of waste produced each year is recycled — not an insignificant gain from a decade ago, but well short of the 80-per-cent mark.

Lavigne Lalonde said an encouraging sign is that Montrealers are already changing their habits and eliminating waste at the source. Though the island’s population grew by eight per cent between 2010 and 2018, the amount of waste it produce shrank by six per cent. “It’s not perfect but it’s a sign of progress,” she said.

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