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Quebec to step up recycling capacity with 7 pilot projects

Recycling in the province is one step closer to being modernized. The Quebec government announced the launch of several pilot projects to test various collection systems in stores. (Global News).

The province’s recycling consignment program is one step closer to being modernized.

Tuesday the Quebec government announced the launch of seven pilot projects in six cities to test various collection systems at retail centres, to see which works best for clients to drop off more varieties of glass, metal, plastic and cardboard containers, including wine and spirits bottles as well as cardboard juice cartons.

“Yes, we are late but at the end of the race we will definitely finish in first position,” claimed Benoit Charette, the province’s minister of the environment and the fight against climate change.

The aim is to expand and improve Quebec’s recycling consignment program, and any systems which are picked, Charette bragged, will put Quebec ahead of other provinces.

“Because we can consider the experiences in the other provinces and learn what works and what doesn’t,” he explains.

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The machines are located at, or adjacent to retail locations, including the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) depot in Terrebonne, east of Montreal.

“The enlargement of the deposit return system will allow us to have a better quality of glass to ensure that it gets better recycled,” explained Marie-Hélène Lagacé, vice-president of public affairs, communications and social responsibility for the SAQ.

At that location clients feed their containers into a machine inside the store.  A scanner determines what the container is and a conveyor carries it to the appropriate bin — one for glass and another for cardboard, plastic and metal. That way glass isn’t mixed with other materials, contaminating it and making it harder to recycle, according to Lagacé.

“If you get a higher quality of glass there are more options for recycling it,” she said.

Plans to modernize the deposit system were announced in 2020.

Read more: Quebec’s recycling deposit program to include refunds for glass, plastic, metal bottles

One expert in issues related to the environment pointed out that extending the deposit program to include more containers like wine and spirits bottles, as well as is good news, but more should be done.

She wants to know what refund shoppers will get when they drop off their containers after the program fully launches once the pilot project ends.

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“It has to be high enough to make sure that people participate that they’re incentivized to participate,” Colleen Thorpe, Eqiterre executive director insisted.

When the plans to expand the program were first announced in 2020, a minister of the environment wrote in a press release that “the proposed deposit will be set at $0.25 for wine and spirits containers and $0.10 for all other returnable containers.”

Those amounts haven’t been finalized.

Thorpe also wonders about other options to recycling.

“What we would like to see is more refillable containers,” she stated.

Lagacé pointed out that since the SAQ’s suppliers are worldwide that is hard to do, but said they’re considering it.

The new consignment collection system should be deployed fully by 2022.

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