MONTREAL -- Quebec needs to reform its entire recycling program – not just its bottle system, insists the Union of Municipalities of Quebec (UMQ).

This comes after the Quebec government announced Thursday that it is introducing a larger consignment program that will include all glass, plastic and metal drink containers between 100ml and 2L.

“The widening of the deposit to glass and plastic is certainly an interesting avenue to encourage residents to better recycle," said interim UMQ president and Sainte-Julie mayor Suzanne Roy. "However, this is only part of the solution to the crisis of our entire curbside recycling system ... We need to quickly reform the entire model from the ground up."

She argues the onus should be put on producers to go green by holding them accountable for what they put on the market.

"As sorting centers and landfills overflow, Quebec must acquire a global and effective vision of material management with clear objectives," Roy stated. "This is how we will succeed, with the support of local governments and other partners to benefit our future generations."

Nevertheless, the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) insists modernizing the refund program could significantly improve the quality and value of recycled materials, making them more useful for reuse.

“In a context of climate emergency and a zero-waste vision, this measure will make it possible to stop the creation of mass graves for thousands of containers," said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante. "This will help improve our performance and achieve our objective of recycling 70 per cent of recyclable materials."


Under the new program, 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 – and multilayer containers like milk cartons will be recyclable through the collection program.

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

The Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) says it "enthusiastically" welcomes the government's commitment to improve the refund system.

"The SAQ has been analyzing for several months different glass recovery scenarios to allow the easy return of containers," the Crown Corporation said Thursday. "We intend to actively participate in the pilot projects planned by the government over the next few months."

Officials stated they also plan to "use our influence" to encourage the wine industry as a whole to rethink how it uses glass.

During hearings on the topic last year, the SAQ noted that glass bottles placed in curbside recycling bins often break during transportation, posing a risk to workers, damaging equipment and creating cross-contamination.

"We will first reduce our use of glass in a concrete way. Then, thanks to the deposit program, which will allow us to recover a better quality glass, we will continue to develop initiatives that will allow us to recycle or reuse all the bottles that we recover,” said Catherine Dagenais, president and CEO of the SAQ.


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

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) notes it worries about the potential economic impact on businesses and has "repeatedly expressed opposition" to the expansion of the deposit system. It states removing certain materials from recycling bins could weaken funding for the program.

"The PMEs care about protecting the environment, but they do not want to be forced into a reform that would tie their hands and increase burdens," said François Vincent, vice-president of the CFIB.

The program still has to be adopted by the National Assembly. If it proves successful after several pilot projects, it is expected to take effect as of fall 2022.