MONTREAL -- The Quebec government has announced a new, larger consignment program that will include all glass, plastic and metal drink containers between 100ml and 2L.

"It's quite shameful, the number of plastic and glass bottles that end up in landfill, in our waterways and even on the beaches of Îles de la Madeleine," said Quebec Premier François Legault Thursday. "Quebecers want to do their part for the planet."

The government says the goal is to reduce the amount of material that ends up in landfill by recovering and sorting them sooner.

Wine and spirit bottles, as well as water bottles and cans that were not part of the previous deposit program – such as for sparkling water, vegetable juices and green teas – will be included in the new program.

Multilayer containers like milk cartons are expected to be included in the program's second step.

"The consignment system has needed to be modernized for a long time," said Benoit Charette, minister for the environment and the fight against climate change. "With this reform, and those to come, Quebec is on its way to become an important actor for environmental protection in the world."

Quebec lags far behind other provinces in terms of their deposit system, which hasn't been updated since the 1980s.

The government estimates under the new program, more than four billion containers could be returned annually, including more than one billion plastic water bottles.

"To give you an idea of the quantity this represents, if we put all the plastic bottles we use each year in Quebec side by side, we could do the tour of the Earth six times, passing by the Equator," the government states. "Currently, 2.4 billion containers of beer and soft drinks are collected annually through the deposit system."

The proposed deposit amount will be set at 25 cents for wine and spirits and 10 cents for all other returnable containers.

"In one centre de depot or one store where this technology will be available, they will be able to bring back all their materials. We want the system as simple as possible because we need results," said Charette. "The industry has a lot of interest to put in place a simple system because they will have to respect some specific goals as soon as 2025."

The government states companies will have the financial and operational responsibility to uphold the new system and will be held accountable through programs with RECYC-QUÉBEC.

Companies will have until January 2021 to propose their deposit plans, which must include recovery points and depot centres.

Government officials add businesses will need to ensure that 75 per cent of returnable containers are recovered and recycled by 2025, going up to 90 per cent by 2030. Failure to meet these targets could result in fines.

Karel Menard of the Quebec Coalition for Ecological Waste Management is calling it a win.

"It will take time. It will be necessary to have new laws, new regulations, and it will take time to implement this enlarged deposit system because you will have certainly new deposit centres. It might take years," he said.

At the SAQ, cans and bottles could be placed into machines outside the store, according to President and CEO Catherine Dagenais.

Thursday's announcement comes after consultations were held last year on the province's recycling process.

Several municipalities could hold pilot projects on the program. The plan still has to be adopted by the National Assembly. However, it is expected to take effect as of fall 2022.