Taking the yellow bus up to the Landfill in Lachenaie, I was freeing up my iPhone storage to take photos of the devastating area that has been submerged in Montreal’s garbage. The title of the dump entails all aspects of it facilities: Progressive waste solutions. Lachenaie’s landfill locks the non-hazardous waste in clay like vaults underground and the only garbage in plain site fills less than half of a soccer field. I had trouble comprehending that approximately 600 hundred trucks dump garbage at the site each day, five days a week. The landscape of the dump comprises of hilly grass fields. This is where the garbage actually resides.

How it works

When garbage piles reach a height of 3 metres, it is then compacted and mixed with a mix of soft recycled car parts, dirt and topped with clay. This is what lies underneath the grassy field. Underneath the garbage mounds are pipes that siphon out the “garbage juice”. This liquid is treated in a series of ponds and is then sent to a local wastewater treatment plant. Andre Chulak, responsible for communications and education programs for the site, explained why it is so important to dispose of hazardous waste materials correctly. “If these materials are present in the landfill’s garbage, it will most certainly seep into the environment”. Examples of household hazardous waste materials are batteries, rodenticides, electronics or chemical cleaners. All of these materials can be disposed of at you local eco centre.

Renewable Energy

Another condemnable aspect about the Lachenaie’s dump is that they generate renewable energy from the garbage. The biogas is formed through the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen and is then captured in a number of wells throughout the site. 25% of the gas is put back into the hydro Quebec electric grid and powers about 2,000 homes!

Waste management

Despite all the innovation progressive waste solutions provides, Andre stills stresses that 75% percent of the garbage they receive could have been recycled or composted. The Lachenaie Landfill is estimated to be at max capacity in less than a decade.  As Montrealers, we live at a comfortable latitude that will only get more mild and pleasant as climate change progresses. Though this doesn’t mean that other parts of the world are facing drought and sea level rise. Similarly, just because we don’t see the garbage at the lachenaie landfill, doesn’t mean that it is not constantly accumulating and will affect future waterways and ecosystems. Therefore we need to continue to be diligent about reducing our waste and how we expose our waste. The classic Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is still one of the most powerful statements in regards to the protection of our environment.

Stephanie Rochemont

Green Patroller

Eco-quartier NDG