Following China’s recent decision to close its borders to recyclable materials imports from foreign sorting centres and in keeping with the Québec government’s policy directions, government corporation RECYC-QUÉBEC and private non-profit Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ) have assembled a coordinated team to turn the crisis into an opportunity for the province’s recycling industry. “In this difficult situation in today’s world markets, the best approach is to increase the quality of the sorting of the materials collected through curbside recycling,” stated Dany Michaud, CEO, RECYC-QUÉBEC and Maryse Vermette, president and CEO, ÉEQ.
Québec sorting centres, like others in North America and Europe, had access to the tremendous Chinese market. Indeed, as the world’s largest importer of recyclable materials, China had set out less stringent requirements in terms of the quality of the materials. “Since the early warning signs in July, when China informed the World Trade Organization of its intention to ban the import of 24 recyclable materials, including certain plastics, papers and textiles, in the short term, we have assessed the situation, consulted stakeholders and already agreed on the principles that will guide our actions in the weeks to come,” said Mr. Michaud and Ms. Vermette. Acknowledging the collaborative efforts undertaken by RECYC-QUÉBEC and ÉEQ, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change Isabelle Melançon affirmed: “Québecers are taking the right actions. The situation is an opportunity to implement concrete initiatives to maximize the retention of recyclable materials in Québec with a view to the circular economy so as to recycle them here, for the benefit of Québecers.”
A comprehensive approach focused on material quality
The two organizations have set out an approach based on the following elements:
- a refusal to landfill the materials, even as a last resort or temporary situation
- the proactive development of a series of short- and long-term measures aiming at the key objective to significantly increase the quality of materials sorting, specifically with regard to the plastic packaging that falls under the ban and fibres (paper, cardboard, etc.), along with measures to implement quality and auditing criteria
- the active contribution of all partners in the recycling value chain and sorting centres, municipalities and citizens in particular
- research on new local outlets to support the circular economy
- the implementation of additional communications and awareness-building activities aimed at citizens so that less waste is placed in recycling bins in order to enhance the quality of recyclables
- the integration of additional quality criteria in municipal calls for bids for the installation of new sorting infrastructure
- working meetings with key stakeholders in the short term
“We are jointly responsible for finding solutions. We each expect the other to take full responsibility, and we will implement tangible steps to remedy the situation,” concluded Mr. Michaud and Ms. Vermette.
Concerned with making Québec a model for innovative and sustainable waste management to create a waste-free society, RECYC-QUÉBEC is a government-corporation created in 1990, the goal of which is to promote, develop and encourage reduction, reuse, recovery and recycling of containers, packaging, materials and products, as well as creating value from them for the purposes of conserving resources.
About Éco Entreprises Québec
Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ) is the organization that develops the Schedule of Contributions and collects company contributions, which are then redistributed to finance municipal curbside recycling services in Quebec. ÉEQ also encourages innovation and best practices in order to optimize the recyclable materials value chain. To do so, ÉEQ cooperates, on the one hand, with companies to reduce quantities of materials at the source and encourage the use of recyclable materials, as well as with municipalities and other stakeholders to increase recycling and the economic value of recovered materials.
— 30 —
RECYC-QUÉBEC and Éco Entreprises Québec
Maryse Vermette, president and CEO, Éco Entreprises Québec, is available for interviews.
Media line: 514 351-7838
Jacques A. Bouchard
Éco Entreprises Québec
514 987-1491, ext. 247