Recycling in Montreal

cans and bottles for recycling
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Confused about recycling in Montreal? What can and can't be recycled? A thorough breakdown of recyclable and non-recyclable items as outlined by the city of Montreal for paper, glass, metals, and plastics is listed below.

If the object you wish to recycle is not listed anywhere below, don't hesitate to check with city services by dialing 311. If you can't get a clear answer, then throw it in the garbage. Roughly 15% of objects placed in Montreal recycling bins can't actually be recycled. 

And remember to rinse and/or clean out containers, not just to prevent mold, unpleasant odors, and fruit flies from invading your recycling bin, but especially for the sake of recycling center workers who often manipulate recycled items by hand.

By the way, end-of-season Christmas trees? They don't go in the trash. But they also don't go in recycling. Christmas trees are picked up in Montreal on specific dates after the holiday end and delivered to the St. Michel Environmental Complex where most of them are transformed into compost distributed to residents free of charge or mulch for city landscaping.

Recycling Paper and Cardboard

Knowing what paper and cardboard can be recycled is fairly straightforward. Is the paper or cardboard dirty? Does it have grease stains? Then it goes in the garbage. Otherwise, always recycle the following paper and cardboard materials:

  • Paper (staples allowed)
  • Newspapers
  • Flyers, matte or glossy (remove all flyers from plastic bags first, if applicable)
  • Magazines, matte or glossy
  • Envelopes
  • Cereal boxes
  • Frozen food boxes
  • Laundry detergent boxes
  • Shoe boxes
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Paper towel rolls
  • File folders
  • Egg cartons
  • Phonebooks
  • Books
  • Paper bags
  • Milk cartons
  • Juice cartons and juice boxes
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Cardboard boxes flattened and bundled with string for pick-up (boxes that aren't dismantled risk being left by the curb)

But never recycle the following paper and cardboard materials:

  • Dirty and/or greasy paper
  • Dirty and/or greasy cardboard
  • Stickers
  • Wallpaper
  • Photography paper
  • Wrapping paper with a metallic finish
  • Binders
  • Padded envelopes
  • Diapers

Recycling Glass

What glass materials can you recycle in Montreal? It doesn't get more straightforward than this. Always recycle the following glass materials:

  • Bottles (all shapes and colors, with or without label)
  • Jars (all shapes and colors, with or without label)

But never recycle the following glass or vitreous materials:

  • Mirrors
  • Windows
  • Drinking glass
  • Light bulbs
  • Fluorescent lights
  • Pyrex
  • Porcelain
  • Ceramics
  • Dishes

Recycling Metals

What metals can you recycle in Montreal? Most metal cans can go in the bin except for those with solvents and remnants of paint.  Always recycle the following metallic objects:

  • Cans
  • Soda cans
  • Lids
  • Coat hangers
  • Aluminum plates
  • Aluminum foil (unsoiled)

Never recycle the following metallic objects:

  • Cans previously containing paint
  • Cans previously containing solvents
  • Scrap metal
  • Metal hangers
  • Metal pipes
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Pots
  • Pans
  • Electronics
  • Toys
  • Tools
  • Housewares

Recycling Plastics

When it comes to plastics, think non-toxic and clean. Was the plastic previously containing an edible or non-toxic object and cleaned before landing in the recycling bin? Exceptions aside, it probably can be recycled. Did it previously contain any kind of toxic ingredient like solvents? Then it's a definite no.

Always recycle the following plastic items:

  • Bottles previously containing non-toxic liquids (e.g., juice, milk, etc.)
  • Containers previously containing haircare and body care products
  • Containers previously containing soap, laundry detergent, and other household detergents
  • Containers previously containing food (e.g., yogurt, margarine)
  • Lids
  • Toilet paper bags*
  • Paper towel bags*
  • Food packaging (unsoiled)*
  • Grocery bags*
  • Dry cleaning bags*
  • Bread bags*

*All plastic bags should have their contents removed and then batched together and placed into one plastic bag.

Never recycle the following plastic items:

  • Polystyrene containers (all #6 plastics like Styrofoam, which tend to absorb contaminants like dirt easily)
  • Coffee lids from hot beverages
  • Styrofoam (unless your neighborhood is doing a pilot project accepting it, call 311 if in doubt)
  • Containers previously containing solvents
  • Plastic wrap
  • Containers previously containing paint
  • Containers previously containing motor oil
  • Bags inside cardboard-packaged food items like cereal, cookies, etc.
  • Toothpaste tubes
  • Anything made with rubber
  • Hangers
  • Toys
  • Tools
  • Housewares
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