Quebec | Sustainability

Major overhaul of the Québec curbside recycling, introduction of extended producer responsibility in Québec

February 13, 2020

Mr. Benoit Charette, Québec Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced a major overhaul of the Québec curbside recycling system (Blue box) introducing Extended Producer Responsibility principle (EPR) in its operations. $30.5M split between five different programs managed by RECYC-QUÉBEC will be allocated to this reform.

Businesses currently compensate municipalities by funding 93% of costs for municipal curbside recycling services. Yet, paying companies are not involved in system operations. As a result of this overhaul, companies supplying containers, packaging and printed paper in Québec will now be responsible for their products’ full lifecycle, including sorting, processing and recycling.

Once the change is implemented, producers will have to reach performance targets for both collection and recycling, as set in the regulation. Penalties or obligations to invest in system improvement will apply when targets are not achieved. Producers will be obligated to establish partnerships with municipalities and local government organizations that will continue to offer collection and transportation services for recyclables. Québecers will be invited to continue using their blue bins.

The new system will be managed by a producer organization approved by RECYC-QUÉBEC. This organization will act on behalf of producers to ensure compliance and target achievement. As noted in our news update on the QC bottle deposit, dated February 4, 2020, this reform is complementary to the expansion of the deposit system. Current information lets us believe that the government is considering a joint management of both systems to allow cross-subsidization between curbside collection and the deposit system.

Pending adoption by Quebec National Assembly, the new curbside recycling system would take effect in the fall of 2022. Its full implementation would span over three years to be fully operational by the summer of 2025.

The following five programs managed by RECYC-QUÉBEC have been announced by government:

  • Support for upgrading and developing MRFs for recyclables and construction & demolition waste ($9.73 M through March 2022);
  • Support for market output development and innovations ($9.64 M, through March 2022);
  • Short-term help for MRFs ($7.5 M, through January 2021);
  • RFP for transition towards circular economy ($2.86 M, through March 2022);
  • RFP on promoting reduction and limiting disposal of single-use plastics items ($800k, through March 2023).

Analysis

Overall, it had been RCC’s position for quite some time to grant industry more control over funding and operations of curbside recycling services and value chain. This is exactly what the Québec Government announced this week. However, this announcement must be jointly considered with the expansion of the deposit system, since both impact each other.

Based on information made public by the government, it is likely that the expansion of the bottle deposit to all beverage containers coupled with the reform of curbside recycling will create a shortfall for the curbside system. Moving materials made of plastic and glass from curbside to deposit will mean shortfalls for MRFs, a deficit estimated at $23.5M by government. We believe this number is somewhat conservative and could be much more important. RCC will continue to engage with the government and industry partners to mitigate the impacts of these changes to retailers.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact:, Jean-Francois Belleau, Director, Government Relations  at jfbelleau@cccd-rcc.org or 514-316-7659

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