On November 12th, 2019, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante inaugurated Montreal’s newest recycling center, situated in Lachine. It was built at the cost of 47-million dollars and will cost $3.5 million to run over five years. The complex now treats 58% of recyclable materials from the greater region of Montreal, most of which were previously sorted by the Saint-Michel Environmental Complex. The older recycling center still remains functional.

The Lachine center is meant to treat up to 100 000 tons of recyclable materials a year thanks to the state-of-the-art technology, making it the most modern recycling center in all of Quebec. Many of these machines, including several optical separators, magnetic separators, and blowers, were designed and made in our province. These technologies are extremely automated and put the materials through more sorting steps in order to obtain purer end materials. The mayor hopes these materials of greater value will be more marketable.

Originally, Rebuts Solides Canadiens (RSC), a privately-owned company, ran the facility. Unfortunately, on February 3rd 2020, RSC placed itself under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. The city had to react quickly to avoid an interruption of the center’s services. RECYQ-QUÉBEC and the ministry of Environment and Climate Change lent 7 million dollars to the company as a temporary solution.

The Saguenay recycling centre, also previously operated by RSC, decided in the beginning of the month of May to employ la Société VIA to run their facilities. In June, the city of Montreal hired la Société VIA to run the Lachine center for the next 10 years with a contract of up to 59.6 million dollars. This includes not only the sorting of received materials but also the maintenance and technological improvement of the facilities throughout the length of the contract. The contract also includes targets to maintain the quality of fibers (paper), metal and glass and plastic at levels accepted by local buyers. The Société Via is also expected to share all relevant information about the sorting and resale of recyclable materials with the city to make sure operations are in line with the city’s sustainable development goals. This contract remains conditional to the termination of the previous contract with RSC.

Despite the ongoing recycling crisis, the Société VIA has been extremely successful in running four recycling centers in the province. They are a social economy and integration non-profit established in Quebec in 1977 that favors the hiring of workers with a handicap or functional limitations. In fact, they are committed through their contract with the city to maintain a workforce consisting of 60% of employees with functional limitations.

By Léa Gauvin, Green patroller