The amount of recyclable material with no place to go continues to grow at the Saint-Michel sorting centre.
Bundles of paper, cardboard and other material are filling the site. It used to be exported to China and recycled there, but the country has refused to purchase Canadian products, claiming a lot of the recyclable paper was mixed with plastic, metal, glass and other “contaminates.”
“Nobody wants that. It’s all messed up,” Marc Fortin, president of the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Retail Council, told Global News.
The material piling up is exposed to the weather elements and is rotting and could now be worthless.
The fear is that it could all end up in the landfill.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante insists she’s working with the environment minister to avoid that from happening, but she’s not making any promises.
When asked by Global News what will happen to the material if it’s of no value, the mayor replied, “We will find something.”
There are no recycling plants in Quebec and the sorting centre at Saint-Michel is supposed to be shuttered within a couple of years and replaced with a new one in the east end of Montreal.
For now, it’s fully functional but considered antiquated.
“They’re way behind the times. You have a bunch of people trying to pick up things on a belt going by on a fast pace,” Fortin said.
“They’re missing three quarters of the material going by.”
The centre is owned by the City of Montreal but is operated by a Canadian subsidiary of Groupe TIRU, a French firm.
A spokesperson for the company informed the city last week it plans to soon cease operations at the Saint-Michel sorting centre and at three others it operates in Quebec, including the only other one on of the island of Montreal in Lachine.
Until the government and the city can figure out what to do with all the recyclable material being stockpiled at the sorting centres and finds someone to eventually operate them, the recycling crisis will continue.