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Quebec steelworkers want consignment program on wine bottles

Click to play video: 'Steelworks want consignment program for wine bottles' Steelworks want consignment program for wine bottles
WATCH ABOVE: The Syndicat des Métallos du Quebec, the province's steelworkers' union is calling on the SAQ to implement a consignment program on wine bottles, arguing that under the current model, most bottles end up in landfills rather than being recycled. Felicia Parrillo reports – Jul 9, 2016

MONTREAL – It may cost a lot of money and take a lot of work, but steelworkers insist it has to be done.

“You need to consign the bottles,” said Alain Croteau, director of the Quebec steelworkers’ union. “Like the brown bottles, they recycle these bottles at least 98 per cent and you can reuse these bottles 12-15 times, so if you can do that for brown bottles you can do it for the bottle of wines.”

The debate about consigning and recycling wine bottles in Quebec has been going on for years.

The steelworkers union believes Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) bottles should be recycled.

READ MORE: Quebecers pay too much for alcohol: Auditor General

In order to encourage people to do that, the union said there should be a consignment program.

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To get that point across, workers set up shop in front of a Montreal SAQ.

READ MORE: Prices are going up at the SAQ

While people went in and out of the store, the union let them know where their empty bottles actually go.

“Our bottles that we have in the blue box is recycled between 23 [to] 35 per cent [of the time] – an average of 30 per cent,” Croteau said. “So 70 per cent of our bottles are going to the garbage.”

At the moment, Owens Illinois, in Pointe-Saint-Charles, is the main bottle manufacturer in Quebec.

Steelworkers explained that a consignment would lower the cost of production, keep and create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“You have no bottles from Quebec going there [Owens Illinois],” said Croteau. “You have bottles from New Brunswick, Ontario going to Owens Illinois. But it’s not enough- they need 400 tons each week.”
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The union is convinced that to keep the facility running, the SAQ needs to set up a consignment.

SAQ customers we spoke to seemed to agree.

READ MORE: Montreal man sues SAQ after allegedly being assaulted by an employee

“Personally, I think it’s long overdue,” said Eric Paul-Hus. “I understand the SAQ’s point that it’s more work for them, it would be costly and so on and so forth. It’s more work for me to recycle week in and week out, but it’s gotta be done cause it’s an environmentally friendly thing to do.”

The SAQ wasn’t available for comment Saturday but has said in the past that a consignment program would be costly – reportedly as much as $200 million over five years.

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