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Deposit-refund set to expand in Quebec


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May 16, 2011 by Guy Crittenden

This article from the May 14 edition of the Montreal Gazette suggests that deposit-refund systems are alive and well La Belle Provence, despite some rumours to the contrary, and are poised for expansion.

Minister toasts deposit return

Arcand says he is looking to improve system

BY MICHELLE LALONDE, GAZETTE ENVIRONMENT REPORTER

MAY 14, 2011

Quebec’s environment minister says rumours that the province is poised to abolish the deposit-return system on beverage containers are false. In fact, Pierre Arcand says he is considering increasing deposit amounts and expanding the program to include wine bottles.

Arcand made the comments at a news conference Friday where an environmental group was launching a new, province-wide coalition called Pro-Consigne Québec that will work to improve and expand the deposit-return program.

Last November, Arcand announced the government would be reviewing the deposit system on beverage containers, such as soft drink cans. This alarmed environment groups, who feared the minister was listening to soft drink retailers and other industry players who don’t like the deposit-return system because it costs them money.

But Arcand says he is examining which system, curbside recycling or deposit-return, would result in more drink containers being recuperated and he will make his decision based on which proves to be most effective at keeping recyclables and reusables out of the waste stream.

He said he has not made the decision yet, but he attended yesterday’s news conference to clarify that he was not against deposit-return systems.

“I simply wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to say very clearly that we do not intend to eliminate the deposit-return system at all and if I had to give you my personal opinion, I think the two systems will be used in parallel for a long time.”

But according to Karel Ménard of the Front commun québecois pour une gestion écologique des déchets, deposit-return systems for all beverage containers is clearly the best environmental choice and the minister only needs to improve and expand the existing system to get better results.

The deposit price has been 5 cents on soft drink containers and beer bottles since the system was introduced in 1984.

Ménard said it is obvious that price should be at least doubled to encourage consumers to return the containers for a refund.

He noted that Quebecers buy about a billion plastic bottles of water each year and about half of those end up as litter or in landfill sites. Meanwhile, from 68 per cent to 93 per cent of drink containers with a deposit on them are recuperated.

The city of Montreal’s Alan De-Sousa says expanding the depositreturn system to include plastic water bottles and wine bottles is a “no brainer.”

“For me, it’s a no-brainer that if other communities and other provinces have put in place a take-it-back system for wine bottles, well, we can also have our SAQ do the same,” De-Sousa, Montreal’s executive committee member responsible for sustainable development issues, said at the launch.

The cities of Montreal and Laval are members of the Pro-Consigne Québec Coalition along with about 20 environmental groups, unions, and industry groups such as the Aluminum Association of Canada, and the Quebec Brewers Association.

mlalonde@montrealgazette.com


Guy Crittenden

Guy Crittenden

Guy Crittenden was formerly Editor of this magazine and is currently a freelance writer specializing in environmental and producer responsibility themes. He lives in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada and can be contacted directly at gcrit @ rogers DOT com
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