A draft bill has been proposed by Paul Begin, the environment minister of Quebec, that would amend the waste management provisions of Quebec’s Environment Quality Act (EQA). The objective of the draft bill is to ensure control over waste production and disposal in Quebec with an emphasis on reclamation.
The proposed amendments have four key objectives:
to prevent and reduce waste production with a focus on the manufacture and marketing of products;
to promote waste recovery and recycling or other forms of reclamation;
to reduce the volume of waste and to ensure the safe operation of disposal facilities; and,
to raise the awareness of product manufacturers and importers regarding the effects of their products on the environment and the cost of treating or disposing of their wastes.
The draft bill contains new definitions for “reclamation” and “elimination.”
“Reclamation” is defined as “any operation the purpose of which is to obtain useful substances or products or energy from waste by re-use, recycling, composting, regeneration or any other process.”
In order to promote recovery and reclamation the draft bill provides the government with the power to regulate and to establish conditions or prohibitions for the manufacture and use of containers, packaging materials, printed matter or other products to reduce waste. Such conditions include: minimum proportions or recovered materials content limits; prohibition of certain mixtures or associations with other materials; the regulation of composition, form, volume, size and weight; and, labeling of these materials.
“Elimination” is defined as “any operation entailing the final deposit or discharge of waste in or into the environment, in particular by dumping, storage or incineration, including operations involving the treatment or transfer of waste with a view to its elimination.”
The draft bill will require operators of waste elimination facilities to set up a financial guarantee in the form of a social trust in order to recover expenses after a facility is closed. These are intended to cover maintenance and supervision of the facility including any costs that the government may have to incur in the event of an accident that results in environmental contamination.
Waste management plans
The draft bill requires regional governments to develop plans for waste management and reclaimable materials plans according to the new provisions. The provincial government would allocate resources accordingly to the 98 regional governments in Quebec: 95 municipal regional counties and three urban communities.
There is the potential for a lack of integration amongst the many various plans throughout the province. However, the draft bill does permit the regional governments to merge and establish joint management plans.
The draft bill also permits a regional government to adopt by-laws to limit or prohibit the dumping of waste within its territory from outside of the territory. The current scheme only allows regional governments to restrict or prohibit dumping of waste from outside the province. There are a number of difficulties that could arise based on this provision, including unfair advantages between different regional municipalities and the potential for conflict.
Other provincial initiatives
Other provinces continue with initiatives in the waste management area as well. In Ontario, the formation of the Waste Diversion Organization (WDO) — a partnership of government, municipalities and industry — was recently announced. The purpose of the WDO is to help fund municipal blue box and other waste diversion programs. The new organization is based on a one-year, voluntary memorandum of understanding to establish programs to: fund blue box costs related to wine and liquor glass containers; increase organic waste diversion; establish additional depots for municipal special household wastes; and, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of blue box programs. (For more information, see page 5 of the December/January edition and the news section at www.solidwastemag.com.)
In New Brunswick, a discussion paper has been released, Waste Reduction and Diversion in New Brunswick, which addresses a new phase in provincial solid waste management. The paper examines the roles and responsibilities of government, waste commissions and the private sector, and describes potential directions such as source-separation or user-pay programs.