The City of Montreal wants to do something about the enormous amount of unsold clothing and food being thrown out as waste. Although many Montrealers do their part by donating their used clothing to places like Village des Valeurs or the Salvation Army for example, it is but a small fraction compared to what actually ends up in the garbage. Over 12 million tons of clothing and fabrics are thrown out as waste and dumped into our landfills every year. It not only comes from our closets, but also from manufacturers and retail stores.
Montreal to prohibit unsold clothes and food from being trashed
As for food waste, some people have their own backyard compost bins and others fill up organic waste bins supplied by their municipality. However, places like most grocery stores, hospitals, cafeterias and educational institutions throw away food they consider no longer fresh – right in with the trash. Moisson Montréal’s ‘Food Recovery in Supermarkets Program’ is a good example of what can be done allowing them to redistribute food, still fresh enough to consume, to participating organizations. But it is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when one considers the tonnes of food actually wasted.
According to a report ‘The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste’ released last January 2019 by Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue charity – close to 58% (or 35.5 million tonnes) of all food that is produced in this country is lost or wasted. Approximately one third of it could be recuperated and distributed across the country to organizations and groups in need.
On Thursday October 17th, Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, in charge of Environmental Transition and Resilience for the city, announced measures that will be taken to address the issue – part of their five-year master plan for waste management between 2020 and 2025. The measures, aimed at cutting waste at its source and reducing the amount ending up in landfills, include:
– Banning the dumping of food and unsold clothes.
– Grocery chains, educational institutions and hospitals will be encouraged to donate food they consider to not be fresh enough and form partnerships with food banks.
– Food waste producers will be encouraged to compost.
– Clothing stores and textile companies will be forbidden from throwing out unsold clothing.
– Merchants will soon have to recycle clothing or work with different social groups to give clothes to people in need.
According to Lalonde, the city will first work with the biggest producers of food waste, like grocery store chains – with the goal of developing partnerships between them and food banks or other organizations providing food to people in need. Although some stores have already entered into partnerships, they want to make sure it is done on a much larger scale. There are no fines in place yet if merchants and stores do not follow the action plan, but the city wants to change people’s mentality when it comes to waste reduction. A public consultation will take place in the near future.