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Taking responsibility for our garbage - BAPE hearings on residual waste

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17,000 tonnes of waste is buried every day in Quebec – the equivalent of 140 Via Rail locomotives – and the amount of waste buried or incinerated per capita has been on the rise since 2016.

It is clear that many Quebecers are concerned about our garbage, with a growing zero waste movement in the province. Thousands of people are trying to reduce the amount of waste they produce and to avoid it ending up in a landfill. But we are currently confronted with a waste crisis necessitating major interventions to reform the residual waste management system. It is time for some ambitious public policies to address the crisis.

BAPE hearings to take stock of current waste disposal

The Quebec government wants to reduce the amount of waste buried in the province by 25% by 2023. Among the first steps, a commission of inquiry into long term waste management is being conducted by the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE). The BAPE will examine the current state of our waste management and will analyze what the next 20 years may look like.

You can take part in the public hearings!

The BAPE’s mandate is to listen to the public and to review all the information brought to its attention. It’s very important that citizens and organizations share their perspectives on residual waste. Make your voice heard!

No need to be an expert or to spend a lot of time on this: you can simply submit a photo, a paragraph, a video or a few pages of your thoughts.

On April 12, Équiterre organized a webinar on how to participate in the BAPE hearings, which you can watch here to help you prepare your submission (or have a look at the PDF). In the webinar or the PDF you’ll find information, data and tools to understand the issues pertaining to residual waste management in Quebec. The idea is to encourage Quebecers to make their BAPE participation as impactful as possible.

If you’d like to take part in the BAPE public hearings, simply complete the notice of intention form by May 3. It takes only a minute to fill out, and then you will need to send in your submission before May 14.

Key dates:

  • May 3: deadline to complete the notice of intention (in french)
  • May 14: deadline to submit your brief (or photo, video, short text...) (in french)
  • May 25: start date for the presentation of briefs 

For inspiration 

  • Watch this video by Amélie Côté, Équiterre’s analyst for responsible consumption and reduction at the source (in french):

 Why is it so important for you and for Équiterre to be involved?

There are still a number of questions to resolve even after the first stage of the BAPE consultations (which our analyst for responsible consumption and reduction at the source, Amélie Côté, is following closely).

Among the issues that concern us most: the emphasis is on residual waste, at the expense of focusing on opportunities to reduce waste at the source.

“It’s like focusing on the symptom of a problem rather than its root cause,” explains Amélie Côté. “Solutions exist to reduce our waste at the source, such as compelling businesses to reduce their packaging, acting against food waste, requiring manufacturers to market long-lasting, repairable products, and promoting circular measures like deposit-refund programs for refillable containers. These and other measures ensure that the burden of waste reduction does not fall entirely on the shoulders of citizens.”

The good news is that the BAPE commissioners are very interested in issues pertaining to reduction at the source and the circular economy.

Another key issue: there still isn’t a clear consensus on the definition of residual waste. According to the MELCC, the notion of residual waste will evolve over time based on the measures that wil be put in place to divert waste from disposal.

At Équiterre, we believe that residual waste should instead be defined very clearly as materials that cannot be recycled or composted, or things that could not have been reused (e.g. furniture and other objects).

It’s clearly time to take responsibility for our garbage!

If you have any questions about the issues or about how to get involved, feel free to contact Amélie Côté (

Some examples of visuals