Longueuil public transit authority unveils mask recycling program on Earth Day

The RTL has set up boxes at the Longueuil terminus for masks to be recycled. Thursday, April 22, 2021. RTL handout photo

The Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL), the transit authority on Montreal’s south shore, unveiled a mask recycling program for single-use masks on Thursday.

Recycling boxes were being installed at the RTL’s Longueuil terminus on Earth Day, to allow commuters to safely dispose of their face masks.

The project was initiated by RTL employees in mid-March and began with recycling boxes being installed in garages and other RTL buildings.

Face masks became mandatory for public transit users in Quebec in July 2020.

Earlier this month, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), the province’s workplace safety board, issued a notice making medical masks mandatory in all workplaces.

Read more: Medical masks mandatory in all Quebec workplaces starting April 8

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The transit authority estimates the initiative will allow for 6,500 masks from its client base to be recycled on a weekly basis, adding to the 10,000 employee masks already being collected.

In a press release, the RTL said the used masks will be shipped and processed by a Quebec company, allowing for the recovery of the metal nose tab and the transformation of the fabric into plastic particles to be used in the manufacturing of new objects.

The RTL’s board of directors thanked employees for their commitment to green initiatives.

“This is an important gesture and it is not the first nor the last that the RTL will take in favor of the environment. Our employees have carried out many projects in this direction and we want to congratulate them,” said RTL president Jonathan Tabarah, on behalf of the board.

Read more: Most Quebec school boards have no mask recycling plan in place, instead they are thrown in the trash

On top of mask recycling, the RTL says it has recently acquired a solvent recovery system used for cleaning painting equipment in the bodyworks department.

The new device will allow to recycle 95 per cent of the solvent used in its garages to be recycled and save the RTL over $2,000 per year in the purchase of solvent and costs associated with disposing of it.

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“We will thus reduce the impact on the environment by reducing the consumption of hazardous materials and the discharge of residual materials,” Tabarah said.

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