Difficulties in the Québec recycling industry
QUÉBEC CITY, July 3, 2018 – In response to the broad consultation on selective collection held on May 30, Isabelle Melançon, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, is announcing the establishment of a committee on the modernization of the waste recovery and recycling industry.
This committee will have the mandate to review the foundations of the current recyclable material management system and make recommendations to the Minister on how to improve the quality of material generated by sorting centres. This material must be better adapted to supply Québec recyclers, who will also have to be part of the solution.
The governance of Québec sorting centres and the quality of the material they produce will be at the heart of the committee’s work. It will report directly to the Minister and will be administratively coordinated by RECYC-QUÉBEC. Its members will make recommendations on changes that are needed, whether regulatory, legislative or administrative, in order to promote a significant increase in the circular economy in Québec and to reduce the dependence on uncertain international markets by the same token.
The committee will be co-chaired by two people who are adept at combining environmental responsibility and innovation, namely Louise Hénault-Ethier, Head of Scientific Projects at the David Suzuki Foundation, and Marc Olivier, Research Professor in the field of residual matter at the Centre de transfert technologique en écologie industrielle and member of the Board of Directors of the Conseil régional de l’environnement de la Montérégie.
Additional financial support
Minister Melançon took the opportunity to announce additional financial support of $10.6 million to be spent on various measures to further support the waste recovery and recycling industry in the current difficult context.
Of this amount, $4.6 million will be used to create a new financial assistance program to support the Québec waste recovery and recycling industry in the production of materials that meet quality standards, thus promoting an increased circular economy. In addition to its primary mandate, the committee on the modernization of the waste recovery and recycling industry will be asked to validate and quickly enhance this new program’s conditions in order to ensure that the allocated amounts are optimally invested.
In addition, a second investment of $6 million will be available to the industry. This amount may be used to continue the modernization of sorting centres in order to improve the quality of material, finance some projects reserved by RECYC-QUÉBEC in it’s last call for projects or support any other project recommended by the committee.
Recyclers and sorting centres working group
Concurrent with the committee’s work, RECYC-QUÉBEC will coordinate a working group assembling representatives of Québec recyclers and sorting centres. This group will mainly focus on the local and sustainable use of the material produced by sorting centres. They will also examine development potential, the conditions for success, and the business practices of the most successful sorting centres.
Residents are doing the right thing by recycling with their blue bins. They must continue to do so with confidence in curbside services. We must therefore ensure the quality of the services offered and that the collected material does not end up in landfill sites. Today, we are taking a big step in the modernization of our recycling system to ensure that it produces quality material that can be sold to our recyclers to create a real circular economy in Québec. The actions we are taking today, as well as the amounts announced, will greatly help us to achieve these objectives.
– Isabelle Melançon, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change
The current situation requires agility and the implementation of concrete and consistent action to meet the many challenges we face. We have gathered experts around the same table. Thanks to them, these actions will quickly be assessed and implemented.
– Sonia Gagné, Chief Executive Officer of RECYC-QUÉBEC
Composition of the committee
The committee on the modernization of the waste recovery and recycling industry will be composed of the following people and organizations:
- Louise Hénault-Ethier, Co-Chair of the committee and Head of Scientific Projects at the David Suzuki Foundation;
- Marc Olivier, Co-Chair of the committee and Research Professor in the field of residual matter at the Centre de transfert technologique en écologie industrielle;
- Ginette Pellerin, who has expertise as a managing director and administrator of several waste recovery and recycling companies;
- Sara-Emmanuelle Dubois, President of NovAxia, specialist in environmental protection and waste management;
- Karel Ménard, General Manager of the Front commun québécois pour une gestion écologique des déchets;
- Réjean Pion, Director of the Association des organismes municipaux de gestion des matières résiduelles;
- Richard Mimeau, Executive Director of the Conseil des entreprises en technologies environnementales du Québec;
- Maryse Vermette, President and CEO of Éco Enterprises Québec;
- Sonia Gagné, Chief Executive Officer of RECYC-QUÉBEC
- Jasmin Savard, General Manager of the Union des municipalités du Québec;
- Lionel Fréchette, administrator of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités.
- On May 30, more than a hundred representatives directly involved in the Québec waste recovery and recycling industry took part in an broad consultation on selective collection. The announcement of the creation of the committee on the modernization of the waste recovery and recycling industry and the additional financial assistance of $10.6 million are two concrete actions that resulted from the consultation.
- On January 25, a new call for proposals with a budget of $3 million was announced by the Government of Québec to encourage the improvement of selective collection. On June 7, as a result of this call for proposals, about $3.45 million was awarded to 7 projects intended to modernize sorting centres and diversify opportunities. In total, these projects will generate investments of $16.2 million.
- The Government of Québec has thus invested more than $14 million in the last few months to improve the quality of materials generated with recycled matter. This is in addition to the $25 million invested by the government in sorting centres over the past 10 years.
- Québec’s performance in selective collection makes it a leader in Canada and enables it to fare well in the face of the global recycling crisis:
- Québec recycles 81 kg/inhab. at a cost of $215 per ton;
- Ontario recycles 65 kg/inhab. at a cost of $309 per ton;
- British Colombia recycles 41 kg/inhab. at a cost of $398 per ton;
- Manitoba recycles 68 kg/inhab. at a cost of $297 per ton;
- Every year Québec collects over 1 million tons of material, including 707,000 tons of fibre and 46,000 tons of plastic. Of this amount, 80% is sold for the purpose of recycling and 10% is otherwise recovered.
- Note that collection costs an annual amount on the order of $150 million. Of this amount, $140 million is offset by companies that market certain designated materials and is inevitably borne by these companies’ customers. It is therefore the collective responsibility of all stakeholders to work on optimizing these sums.