Solid Waste & Recycling

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Quebec aseptics recycling plant (December 07, 2009)

Groupe RCM Inc., a non-profit corporation active in the field of waste recovery and recycling, will soon begin...


Groupe RCM Inc., a non-profit corporation active in the field of waste recovery and recycling, will soon begin construction of a new processing line at its plant in Yamachiche Quebec. This new installation will allow it to recycle plastic and paper waste, specifically Tetra Pak aseptic containers (for juice, wine, soup, bouillon, milk, etc.) and the cartons usually used for dairy products (milk and cream), as well as plastic (low-density polyethylene) bags and films.

This project represents a total investment of $3.5 millin, including contributions from private-sector partners Tetra Pak Canada ($500,00), A. Lassonde Inc. ($100,000) and Natrel ($100,000), as well as the Quebec government corporation Recyc-Quebec ($300,000). Starting next spring, the Yamachiche plant accept these types of wastes from sorting centres in Quebec and other provinces, converting them into granules vi use of a high-speed “thermokinetic” process developed by the Centre de recherche industrielle du Québec (CRIQ) in collaboration with Groupe RCM and Tetra Pak.

Resin made from 100 per cent post-consumption products is suitable for a wide variety of applications, and will be sold to various manufacturers across Canada and the U.S. It can be used to make flower pots, construction materials, filler for various articles, and a number of other products.

The President of Groupe RCM, Yvon Picotte, points out that, “This striking innovation, which will generate 25 new jobs in Yamachiche, of which nearly a dozen will be added as early as January 2010, and of which several will be for disabled workers, is a significant contribution to sustainable development. It will make it possible to transform packaging containing post-consumer paper or plastic into a high-value-added resin material, which in turn will be used to manufacture other articles that also have a high added value. The fact that the plant is located in the heart of the province of Quebec will cut transportation costs substantially. Moreover, it will help stabilize the post-consumption carton packaging and plastic film markets, which have been characterized by major price fluctuations.”

Groupe RCM’s objective is to reach a total yearly processing volume of 12,000 tonnes within three years. Picotte says he’s “delighted that the actions of a Mauricie firm are yielding such major benefits” and says he is “very proud that this project also showcases the innovative spirit and entrepreneurial strength found in many social economy enterprises, a reality that is all too often eclipsed or ignored.”

The CEO of Tetra Pak Canada, Santiago Fourcade, is very pleased with “this breakthrough which will extend the life cycle of our cartons — a matter of real interest for our customers and ourselves and something that we are constantly striving to address by keeping our eyes open for more effective solutions to enhance the environmental value of our packaging.”

He adds, “This project is a great example of sustainable development. On the social side it will create jobs, especially for the disabled. It has the environmental benefit of promoting recycling and diverting more material from the waste stream. Further, it is an outstanding example of government and industry partnership.”

In fact, Tetra Pak, the world’s leading aseptic packaging manufacturer, launched an operation in 2002 to promote more extensive recycling of its cartons, primarily in Ontario and Quebec. In the following years, it spearheaded a number of information and awareness initiatives addressed to various groups (municipalities, sorting centres, governments, environmental groups), in an attempt to familiarize them with recycling solutions for Tetra Pak cartons. These activities yielded results: access by Quebec residents to programs that recycled them rose from 12 per cent in 2002 to nearly 85 per cent in 2007.

In spring 2007, in preparation for a public communication campaign designed to increase the rate of recycling of its cartons, Tetra Pak Canada made a test tour of Quebec sorting centres.

At that time, a number of centres expressed concerns regarding market conditions. Given that export seemed to be the only remaining alternative (despite major constraints in terms of perception and logistics), Tetra Pak did an assessment of the recycling markets for aseptic and gable top cartons and pinpointed possible solutions for further study. Among the various potential options, the one proposed by Groupe RCM during the tour of Quebec sorting centres proved to be the best solution.

Tetra Pak Canada and Groupe RCM then joined forces to conduct a feasibility study on the process developed by Groupe RCM and tested by CRIQ.

Fourcade sees Tetra Pak Canada’s involvement from the outset of the project as “evidence of our determination to make every effort to render our aseptic cartons 100 per cent recyclable. Tetra Pak founder Ruben Rausing used to say, ‘a package should save more than it costs.’ Today, you could say we’re living up to that.”

When the results of the feasibility study proved convincing, other partners entered the arena and made financial contributions to develop the project.

Jean Gattuso, Operations Manager of Industries Lassonde, whose subsidiary A. Lassonde is a major user of Tetra Pak packaging, is also proud of “our firm’s significant, tangible financial support for a project that clearly springs from values we promote in our corporate culture, specifically boldness, innovative spirit and creativity. The waste reclamation technology that will be implemented dovetails perfectly with our firm’s commitment to co
nstantly improving the environment.”

Gattuso is convinced that “the consumers who use our products will certainly appreciate this technological breakthrough, which enables us to meet their demand for containers whose ecological footprint is small.”

For his part, Natrel Vice-President for Communications and Public Relations, Jean Brodeur, insists that “our firm is proud to be associated with a major environmental advance that will benefit Quebec society as a whole.

“Among the fundamental values that inform everything we do day-to-day, environmental conservation occupies a very important place, because it keeps us in tune with nature, which is at the heart of the quality products we manufacture and distribute,” adds Brodeur.

About Groupe RCM

Founded in 1981, Groupe RCM Inc. is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to create jobs for people with physical or cognitive limitations, while improving environmental quality through the recovery and reclamation of recyclable domestic and industrial waste. The social economy enterprise employs a staff of 174, of whom 60 per cent are people with physical or cognitive limitations, and processes over 40,000 tonnes of waste annually.

About Tetra Pak Canada

Tetra Pak Canada is a subsidiary of the Tetra Pak Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of liquid and solid food processing and packaging equipment. Worldwide, the company employs 21,600 people and is present in over 150 countries. The company manufactures processing and packaging systems for liquid foods, including the Tetra Brik Aseptic (TBA) system, the famous “drink box.” In Canada, the company has its head office in Richmond Hill, Ontario, where about eighty people are employed.

About A. Lassonde Inc.

A. Lassonde Inc., a subsidiary of Industries Lassonde Inc., was founded in 1918. A leading Canadian juice manufacturer, the firm develops, manufactures and markets an innovative, distinctive line of fruit and vegetable juices and beverages. It markets its products in all Canadian provinces and the New England states, under various brands (Rougemont, Fruité, Oasis, Feeling, Fairlee, Allen’s, Graves, Orange Maison, Everfresh, Fairlee Nature’s Best, SunLike, Tropical Grove, Olinda, Old South, Niagara, Junior Juice, Revive and Regain). Its production and warehousing facilities are located in Rougemont, Quebec (two plants); Ruthven and Toronto, Ontario; Calgary, Alberta; and Port Williams, Nova Scotia. It also operates two firms in related lines of business: an industrial apple juice supplier in Thornbury, Ontario, and a direct distributor of juices, drinks and beverages in Montreal, Quebec. It also imports selected wines from various countries for packaging and marketing purposes. The company currently has nearly 1,000 employees.

About Natrel

Founded in 1990, Natrel, a division of the Agropur cooperative is a leader in Canada’s dairy industry. It operates nine plants in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, employs 1,540 people and processes nearly 800 million litres of milk annually. Natrel, whose head offices are located in Longueuil, supplies close to 30,000 customers and offers a wide range of products, including well-known brands such as Québon, Natrel and Sealtest. It processes over 2.2 billion litres of milk annually and offers an impressive array of products including a number of renowned brands (Québon, Oka, Sealtest, Natrel, Island Farms, Yoplait, La Lacteo, Trega, and Schroeder).

Contact Michel Camirand, General Manager, Groupe RCM, 819-296-3701 x222


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