In spite of having the second highest recycling rate of all the municipalities on the Island of Montreal, Westmount still doesn’t pick up commercial recycling – something locals say is problematic.
With only 41 per cent of all household waste being diverted from landfills, Westmount remains far from achieving the provincial objective of recycling 60 per cent of its total refuse.
Evan Hughes, an employee at the accessories shop Benn & Tournesol on Sherbrooke, said his store was recently provided with an individual blue bin that allows them to recycle junk mail and various office items – but it does not cover the large volume of cardboard boxes, paper, and plastic that the store generates.
“Retailers produce way more recycling than the average household,” said Hughes.
But in lieu of an accessible recycling system, Hughes has managed to find ways to cut down on the waste produced by his business.
“We switched our plastic bags to biodegradable and our wrapping paper and ribbon are made from recycled materials,” he said.
Westmount recycling coordinator Marina Peter said that the City has neglected to create a pick-up recycling program because of the logistical problems it presents.
“A lot of the time [trucks] are limited [in what they can pick up] because the laneways are narrow. Putting the recycling out in front of the stores – [is] not something that can be easily done. I don’t know if you’ve ever walked down St. Denis on recycling day, but you see tons of cardboard just sitting on the curb,” she said.
Peter said that in the meantime, Westmount is focussing on educating business owners about other ways to recycle – including informing them about a drop-off point for recycling, and providing them with names of private pick-up services.
Evelyn Couture, owner of the Westmount dog boutique Bark & Fitz, said it was difficult to independently take the initiative to recycle.
“At the end of the day, to get the recycling out [to a drop-off point] is a hassle to coordinate,” she said. “I know it’s better for the environment, but I don’t think it should be put on us to go to a drop sight when we are paying what we are paying to be in business here.”
Paying for private recycling is also not a feasible alternative, according to Tony Russo, who has owned Cavallero Fine Foods on Sherbrooke for 11 years – especially after paying Westmount taxes.
Russo also said he has not received any information from the City about recycling.
“You can educate all you want, but if you are not going to pick it up, well – you know, we’re busy here,” he said.