Quebec aims to double recycling capacity with machines that accept wine bottles, cartons and plastic

·2 min read
Sonia Gagné, president of Recyc-Québec, hopes the pilot project will incentivize Quebecers to recycle widely.  (Rowan Kennedy/CBC - image credit)
Sonia Gagné, president of Recyc-Québec, hopes the pilot project will incentivize Quebecers to recycle widely. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC - image credit)

As experts say the need to address climate change is becoming increasingly dire, Quebec is testing out new equipment across six cities in an attempt to reduce how much recyclable material winds up in the trash.

The $1.3 million project allows select retailers and drop-off sites in Montreal, Châteauguay, Granby, Trois-Rivières, Mont-Laurier and Terrebonne to start accepting containers from 100 millilitres to two litres thanks to new machinery. The machinery can also accept plastic water bottles, juice cartons and other containers that will eventually be part of the deposit program.

Last year, Quebec announced it would devote $30 million over the next three years to upgrade the province's recycling facilities, reduce reliance on single-use plastics and ease the burden on recycling centres. The recycling system overhaul includes requiring retailers to ensure consigned material is recycled. Stores also risk facing unspecified penalties if they fail to meet the province's recycling targets.

At a news conference Tuesday, Quebec Environment Minister Benoit Charette said the province was lagging in expanding grocery store recycling facilities.

Sonia Gagné, president of Recyc-Québec — the agency that advises the government on reducing waste — said she hopes the project will boost the recycling rate to 90 per cent in 2030. It currently sits at 71 per cent.

"Modernizing and expanding the deposit system is essential to significantly improving the quality of the materials we recover, and to encourage the development of local outlets with higher added value," Gagné said in a news release.

The six-month trial aims to increase Quebec's recycling capabilities from two billion items to four billion items by next year.

The province also plans to expand the types of containers in its deposit program, and increase the maximum refund to 25 cents, next year.

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