Montreal, May 11, 2023 - Équiterre is sounding the alarm: the good old glass beer bottles could very well disappear in the next few years if the Ministry of the Environment doesn’t make more room for them in the overhaul of its deposit refund system. The government must commit to preserving this multiple-use refillable bottle system, which has proven environmental and economic benefits.
In 2009, 83% of the beer bottled in Quebec was put in refillable glass bottles. The proportion dropped to 32% in 2017 and the situation has worsened in recent years to reach 15% in 2022, according to data from the Association des brasseurs du Québec.
"As the government prepares to implement the expansion of the deposit refund system to all beverage containers next fall, Équiterre is concerned about the limited space and resources allocated to multiple-use refillable containers. Because of its environmental and economic benefits, we hope that the government will work on sustainable solutions for the multiple-use refillable system."
-Amélie Côté, Analyst, Reduction at the source, Équiterre
An environmental solution that must be preserved
The seven refillable container models under official agreement with the province's brewing industry are reused 10 to 25 times, making them a much more ecological solution than aluminum cans, which are crushed and rebuilt after every use.
Environmentally speaking, multiple-use refillable containers always have a smaller footprint than those that are recycled. Fewer GHGs are emitted for one multiple-use bottle that will be used 10 to 25 times, than the production, transportation and recycling of a can 10 to 25 times.
"The beer bottle deposit system, with its low environmental impact, should be a source of pride for Quebec. But this system is not well known and is disappearing. We must reverse this trend,” adds Amélie Côté.
With all the challenges in waste management in 2023, Équiterre wants the government to make life easier for producers who offer refillable containers.
"The expansion of the deposit refund system is the perfect opportunity to develop mutliuse systems. Local producers - such as certain dairy producers - are taking initiative, but to move to another level, we need government support and facilitating conditions in the new deposit refund system," says the expert.
Équiterre is asking the government to support brewers and microbrewers in order to consolidate and develop the supply of refillable containers.
Équiterre is also proposing the implementation of a funding program to support local producers who wish to develop refillable container systems, whether in the dairy, cider, spirits, juice or other beverage industries.
Équiterre's offices are located on Indigenous lands that have not been ceded by treaty, which we now call Montreal and Quebec City. We recognize that Indigenous peoples have protected their territories since immemorial times and have used their traditional knowledge to guard the lands and waters. We are grateful to live on these lands and are committed to continuing our efforts to protect them. Read more »
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