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Quebec's organic waste plan 'ambitious but achievable,' municipalities say

Steam rises at a municipal compost treatment facility in Laval in 2007.
Steam rises at a municipal compost treatment facility in Laval in 2007.

The Quebec government is stepping up its campaign to recover organic waste with a $1.2-billion investment over the next decade.

Benoit Charette , minister of the environment and the fight against climate change, unveiled the ambitious plan for the recovery of organic matter at a news conference Friday at the St-Michel ecocentre in Montreal.

Charette outlined the following goals to a gathering of municipal and environmental leaders:

— Offer the collection of organic matter to all citizens of Quebec by 2025.

— Manage organic matter in 100 per cent of industries, businesses and institutions by 2025.

— Recycle or recover 70 per cent of the organic matter targeted by 2030.

— Reduce 270,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Organic matter constitutes approximately 60 per cent of the 5.8 million tonnes of residual matter eliminated each year in Quebec. The waste sector is the fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter in Quebec, responsible for the emission of around 4.55 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year.

Quebec will work with municipalities to speed up the establishment of collection services and processing facilities. In addition, the province will promote the quality of the organic matter treated and the development of local outlets for composts and other residual fertilizing materials from this collection.

To achieve this, the government will increase the fees for landfilling residual materials from $23.51 to $30 per tonne. Charette said this sends a clear signal that Quebec intends to discourage the elimination of residual materials in favour of their recovery.

The government will also help municipalities better manage food and green residue. At the same time, Quebec will encourage — and then compel — the collection of food and green residue and the collection of paper and cardboard in industries, businesses and institutions.

This strategy comes with significant financial support. For example, the program for the treatment of organic matter by anaerobic digestion and composting will see its budget increased by $308 million. An additional $5 million will be allocated to the Home and Community Composting Assistance Program.

The program to reduce, recover and recycle organic materials from industries, businesses and institutions, administered by Recyc-Québec, will be awarded $9.6 million. The Crown corporation is also responsible for a new recognition program for sorting centres for construction, renovation and demolition residue. That program is the result of concerted discussions with the residual materials management industry.

The Union of Quebec Municipalities (UMQ) described the strategy as “ambitious but achievable,” noting it was subject to adequate funding and that the project must be done in close partnership with the municipalities.

“Municipalities have managed organic matter for years,” said Suzanne Roy, the president of the UMQ and mayor of Ste-Julie. “The government’s announcement maintains ambitious objectives that cannot be achieved without the assistance of local governments and necessary funding. The UMQ sees the strategy unveiled today as a firm commitment by the government to establish a partnership with local government and to financial support for organic material recovery.”

phickey@postmedia.com

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