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Those Montreal Publisac Coupon Bags Soon Won't Be Automatically Delivered To Your Home

You'll have to opt-in to get them.

MTL Blog, Associate Editor
A Publisac coupon bag hangs on a door handle. Right: A hand rests on a spread of grocery store flyers.

A Publisac coupon bag hangs on a door handle. Right: A hand rests on a spread of grocery store flyers.

Deal hunters and coupon cutters will soon have to opt-in to get a monthly Publisac bag left on their doorstep. Montrealers who want the flyer and coupon service after May 2023 will be required to put a sticker on their mailbox requesting it.

Mayor Valerie Plante made the announcement about the regulation change on Monday morning, citing environmental concerns and a desire to cut down on local paper and plastic waste.

"Cities must take action to respond to the climate crisis. This will let us reduce the amount of paper and plastic that's circulating in Montreal. Every step counts," she said.

Plante said the city is looking to decrease landfill waste by 85% and that a major way to achieve that goal is banning the plastic bags used to wrap Publisac deliveries.

Public consultations on the future of door-to-door advertising were held in 2019 with residents and flyer distributors debating the impacts of plastic-wrapped print advertising.

TC Transcontinental, the company that prints Publisac, argued that the opt-out delivery system works and that 86% of the paper used in Publisac is recycled.

Environmental specialists responded that many Montrealers don't recycle the flyers and that curbside collection doesn't equal actual recycling. They said the onus is on distributors not to create waste that needs to be recycled in the first place.

The company reacted to the City's new regulation saying that the move will put an end to Publisac because an opt-in model is unsustainable due to high production costs.

"We have sought constructive dialogue with the City in order to collaborate in achieving source reduction, optimizing the recycling system, and creating a circular economy for plastics in Québec," said Chair of the Board of TC Transcontinental Isabelle Marcoux in a press release.

Right now, around 800,000 flyers are distributed weekly in Montreal. But Publisac doesn’t only feature flyers. Dozens of community newspapers by Métro Media, including the free French-language daily paper Métro, are currently distributed by the service.

"For environmental reasons, Métro Média supports this new regulation of the City of Montreal. This decision will necessitate a review of the current Publisac distribution method when it comes into effect next year, which will undeniably have collateral impacts on the local news industry," said President and General Manager of Métro Média and Chair of the City of Montreal's Advisory Committee on Community Newspapers Andrew Mulé.

Mayor Plante said the city will financially support local papers impacted by the transition.

    Sofia Misenheimer
    MTL Blog, Associate Editor
    Sofia Misenheimer is an Associate Editor for MTL Blog focused on gas prices in Montreal and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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