Following investments of $12.2M and two years of pilot projects, Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ) is releasing its report on the Innovative Glass Works plan, which demonstrates that Québec sorting centres have the capacity to process glass with a purity of over 97% for a range of uses. The results show that it is possible to recycle 100% of the glass collected through curbside programs with targeted investments of $50M to modernize sorting centres and develop outlets.
“The Innovative Glass Works plan stands out for its capacity to integrate various types of sorting and processing equipment in a configuration that is unique in the world,” affirmed Maryse Vermette, president and chief executive officer, ÉEQ. “Practical and immediately feasible, the approach resolves an issue that has gone on for too long. Aimed at Québec’s 23 sorting centres to foster the commercialization of glass, the broadening of the Innovative Glass Works plan across the province may be set in motion in the short term, providing an outstanding circular economy platform for Québec glass.”
The optimization of curbside recycling services is a core concern, and glass poses its own specific challenges since, with the notable exception of beer bottles—which are refundable and reused in local production—bottles, jars and other glass containers can only be used restrictively in their original form. However, when effectively processed, glass constitutes a raw material for which there are increasingly diverse markets, including new bottles, abrasives and cement additives with high added value.
It was with this in mind that ÉEQ led the two-pronged Innovative Glass Works plan in partnership with all curbside recycling and processing stakeholders to improve the offer through a series of pilot projects to modernize sorting centres and develop demand by diversifying the markets for recovered glass.
Next step: implement a roll-out strategy and investment plan
Based on the performances of its pilot projects, which exceeded expectations, ÉEQ estimates that an investment of $23M is required to provide every sorting centre in Québec with glass sorting and processing equipment according to five national models. The projection covers the needs of sorting centres of all sizes based on local markets, in keeping with best practices in sustainable development.
Six market segments have the highest potential to reach the objective to complete the recycling cycle of the 120 000 t/year of glass collected through curbside services. To meet demand, additional investments of $20M will be needed within 24 to 30 months to help conditioners acquire adapted technologies. In addition, $7M is earmarked for awareness campaigns and performance metrics.
Noting that the solutions stemming from the Innovative Glass Works plan are the only keys to recycling all the glass—bottles, jars and other containers—collected through curbside services, Maryse Vermette added: “A concrete, realistic and cost-effective solution is within reach and capitalizes on the good habits of citizens, since more and more of them are placing recyclable materials in their curbside recycling bins. It is now up to the stakeholders in the value chain and the government to support the plan’s implementation across Québec. In this regard, ÉEQ offers its full cooperation.”
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