Montreal kicks Ricova to curb after recyclables pile up at Lachine sorting centre

·3 min read
Montreal's mayor said the city's lawyers gave notice Tuesday to Ricova that it would like to terminate the contract and hire a new operator. (Jérôme Labbé/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Montreal's mayor said the city's lawyers gave notice Tuesday to Ricova that it would like to terminate the contract and hire a new operator. (Jérôme Labbé/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Montreal's executive committee is firing the waste-management company that oversees the recycling sorting centre in the borough of Lachine.

Ricova Services Inc., a giant in the industry, will be replaced by Société VIA, with the transition to the new company effective no later than Nov. 14., the city said in a news release Friday.

The city's environment director will determine the exact date in the best interest of the city, the release said.

"We know that materials have been accumulating for several weeks at the Lachine sorting centre. Faced with the serious and imminent risk of a shutdown of the sorting centre's activities, the city acted quickly to resolve the situation," said Marie-Andrée Mauger, head of ecological transition and the environment on the executive committee, in the release.

Société VIA is a non-profit organization that promotes the hiring of people with functional limitations. The organization has significant expertise in the operation of sorting centres as it runs others in the province, the release said.

Société VIA will create new, adapted jobs in the Montreal region, says the organization's president and CEO.

"For us, two priorities remain: bringing our social mission to life, while ensuring optimal and efficient sorting of recyclable materials," he said in the release.

Earlier this week, Ricova released a statement saying there is not a sufficient market in Quebec for all the recycled volume in the province, particularly because the materials collected at the source are highly contaminated. Ricova says it told Montreal two years ago that the Lachine sorting centre's equipment was inadequate for the job

Ricova will ensure its full co-operation with Montreal while upgrading its own equipment to service other municipalities, the statement said.

Montreal says people can reduce waste

Montreal says people can help reduce waste by using reusable bags, buying in bulk and avoiding over-packaged items.

People can also help by refusing door-to-door flyers, known as Publisacs, by affixing a sticker to their mailbox, the city said. These bags of advertisement flyers will be banned next May.

Earlier this week, Mayor Valérie Plante told the city's executive committee that recyclables "have been accumulating for several weeks" at the sorting centre because the company has been unable to sell its bales on the export market.

She said the city's lawyers gave notice Tuesday that it would like to terminate the contract and put in place a new operator.

In an earlier statement, city spokesperson Marikym Gaudreault said that "everything is done to ensure the continuity of operations in Lachine."

"Discussions are currently underway between the two parties and signals indicate that Ricova will agree to co-operate on a successful transition," Gaudreault said.

History of controversy

Back in June, Montreal barred Ricova from bidding on contracts for the next five years, though that decision did not affect existing contracts with the city.

Ricova Services Inc., based in Brossard, Que., has been operating Montreal's two recycling sorting centres, in Lachine and Saint-Michel, since 2020 and collects curbside recycling from two of the city's boroughs.

It also has collection contracts with several municipalities in the Montreal area.

In a report earlier this year, the city's inspector general, Brigitte Bishop, alleged the company did not pay Montreal its fair share of recycling profits.

She said Ricova Services Inc. had sold recyclable materials to one of its sister companies, Ricova International Inc., which then sold them to outside buyers at a higher price.

In all, the report alleges Ricova withheld more than $1 million it owed the city for recycled materials it sold over a 12-month period.

She recommended the city block the company from bidding on contracts for five years and cut ties with the company "as soon as possible."