Quebec boosts budget for solid waste reduction

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Quebec has pledged nearly $93 million to fund five initiatives aimed at improving recycling, reducing the volume of waste sent to landfill and curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The programs were announced in the 2020 provincial budget, released yesterday, and are part of a $6.2-billion spending commitment over the next five years aligned with achieving a 37.5 per cent reduction in GHG emissions relative to 1990 levels by 2030.

“By announcing unprecedented investments to implement an ambitious environmental plan, we are banking on the development of a green economy that will enable us to create wealth and considerably reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” asserts Quebec Minister of Finance Eric Girard.

The largest share of new funds for solid waste reduction and materials recovery targets large household appliances, including refrigerators, freezers and air conditioning equipment, that contain atmospherically harmful refrigerants. Currently, there is no coordinated program for safe disposal and recapture of the refrigerants and other potentially recyclable components. Rather than imposing an immediate industry stewardship program that would place responsibility on product manufacturers and distributors, the 2020 budget earmarks $52.7 million over five years for “transitional assistance” in establishing a recovery system “without hurting the competitiveness of Quebec businesses.”

Building owners and managers will be among the beneficiaries of $10 million allocated to underwrite organic waste collection and diversion programs in the industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) sector. The funding is to be dispersed over a four-year period.

Three other newly announced initiatives focus on the effectiveness of recycling infrastructure and material recovery services. Recycling sorting centres will get $20 million over two years to invest in “new technologies and better practices” in an effort remove more contaminants and improve the quality and marketability of collected materials.

A complementary initiative provides another $6 million over three years for “sorting and conditioning” of plastics. “By improving the quality of recycled plastic, Québec could quickly develop local and external market outlets for this material,” the budget document states.

Municipally based depots for the drop-off of building materials and wood products — dubbed eco-centres — are identified as a key strategy to keep unwieldy, reusable products out of landfill. The budget promises $4 million over four years to help municipalities open and operate a larger network of these facilities.

“Eco-centres provide a vital public service,” the budget document maintains. “However, there are not enough of them in Québec and their operation does not always allow them to optimally respond to the needs of the recyclables market.”

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