Canada: Quebec liquor board refuses deposit-refund system

Following the criticisms made by O-I Canada of the decline in the amount of glass for “bottle-to-bottle” recycling from Ontario, it has emerged that in neighboring Quebec province the liquor board (SA…

Following the criticisms made by O-I Canada of the decline in the amount of glass for “bottle-to-bottle” recycling from Ontario, it has emerged that in neighboring Quebec province the liquor board (SAQ) is refusing to place wine and liquor bottles in a deposit-refund system, even though most of the bottles in the province end up in the garbage and not in recycling bins. O-I Canada wrote to the Stewardship Ontario Blue Box Funding Review Committee at the end of January 2006 to highlight the loss that it says the single stream recycling system is causing to the amount of glass waste suitable for “bottle-to-bottle” recycling. Of the 115,000 tonnes of recycled glass utilized by OI Canada in 2005 only 46% was sourced from Ontario, down from 80% in 2004. In its letter, O-I restated the recommendation of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in December 2005 that a deposit-refund system be adopted. Deposit-refund systems offer the advantage that many of the bottles can be kept intact and refilled by domestic producers. Also, the glass of different colors is kept separate, allowing more glass to be recycled bottle-to-bottle and not end up being “downcycled” into low-value aggregate for construction. Canadian newspaper La Presse has reported on a confidential report by Recycling-Quebec that says the government is reluctant to compel the liquor board to add a deposit to bottles because SAQ pays millions of dollars each year to the recycling agency. The SAQ sells 147 million bottles of wine and liquor each year. About 25% end up in green boxes for recycling. In other provinces, up to 80% of bottles are recycled.