Manufacturers of containers, packaging and printed material in Quebec are cheering the province’s decision to give them full responsibility for the end-of-life management of the products they bring to market. The move to full extended producer responsibility (EPR) will be phased in through legislation beginning in 2022, and will be fully in place by summer 2025, according to the February 11, 2020 announcement by the Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change Benoît Charette. It will be supported by a three-year, $30.5-million investment from the province to modernize the province’s material recycling facilities.
Municipalities will continue to provide curbside recycling services, but they will be delivered in partnership with manufacturers. The manufacturers will be required to meet fixed recycling targets and will face penalties for failure.
Quebec’s manufacturers of containers, packaging and printed material currently cover most of the cost of municipal recycling programs through the not-for-profit organization, Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ), but have no say in how the programs are run. In a statement, ÉEQ says the shift to full EPR is vital if Quebec is to develop a circular economy.
This announcement is Quebec’s response to the challenge facing recycling programs across Canada, as foreign markets continue to close to Canadian recyclables because of contamination and poor quality. Quebec hopes that manufacturers that are fully responsible for the end-of-life management of their products will better ensure they can be managed throughout their life cycle. An important part of the solution will be to reduce the reliance on foreign markets through the development of a domestic recycling industry.
This announcement is the latest in a series dealing with recycling in Quebec. Earlier, the province extended the mandatory deposit-return system to all ready-to-drink containers between 100 ml and two litres, whether glass, metal or plastic. That change will also be phased in beginning in 2022.
On February 5, 2020, Quebec came to the rescue of Rebuts Solides Canadiens, which operates recycling centres in several cities. The company filed for bankruptcy protection on February 3, 2020 citing poor market conditions for recyclables. Quebec has lent the company $7 million to help keep it afloat.