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Équiterre makes 41 recommendations to address the garbage crisis in Quebec

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photo credit : Mélissa de La Fontaine

Brief: La réduction à la source et le réemploi au coeur des solutions pour diminuer le recours à l’élimination au Québec

For the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE) commission on residual waste, Équiterre submitted a brief on May 14 entitled, La réduction à la source et le réemploi au coeur des solutions pour diminuer le recours à l’élimination au Québec. Led by Amélie Côté, Équiterre’s Analyst in responsible consumption and reduction at the source, the brief presents 41 recommendations to address the root problems of our garbage crisis.

First of all, Équiterre is asking for changes to the definition of “residual waste”. Équiterre believes that residual waste should exclude anything whose life span could potentially have been extended, any materials that are recyclable and anything that could have been processed by any other means than disposal.

Why focus on reduction at the source and reuse?

"We’re unfortunately still focusing on how to manage our waste rather than asking ourselves the hard questions of why do we create so much waste in the first place and what we can do to reduce our waste at the source." - Amélie Côté

Reduction at the source and disposal are inversely proportional: the more we reduce, the less we need to resort to landfills and incineration.

Over the last few decades, the quantity of materials disposed of has not decreased significantly. It is therefore urgent to recognize the potential of the first two Rs of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), and to take action to help consolidate and deploy concrete solutions throughout Quebec. The 3Rs could even be improved to include two additional ones: repair, and refuse what is not necessary.

The 4 main sections of Équiterre’s brief

1. Moving away from the paradigm of overproduction and overconsumption
2. Empowering and involving all stakeholders to improve waste management
3. Increasing disposal costs and funding reuse and reduction at the source
4. Implementing solutions to avoid the disposal of raw materials and the waste of objects

In short, we need to:

  • reuse and repair what currently exists;
  • reduce waste at the source by taking action on over-packaging, by fighting food waste and by encouraging refillable container systems in the food sector;
  • address systemic problems by putting more responsibility on the government, on businesses and institutions, in order to remove some of the burden from the shoulders of individuals and households.

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