May 27, 2002

Quebec introduces amendments to recycling, permitting rules under EQ Act

Amendments introduced this month to Quebec's Environment Quality Act (EQ Act) are intended to enhance the efficiency of the province's residuals collection and recycling system and to streamline its environmental permitting system.

Bill 102 proposes amendments to both the EQ Act and the Quebec Recovery and Recycling Corporation Act (the legislation behind Recyc-Quebec, the agency responsible for Quebec's materials collection/recycling system). The amendments allow for compensation to be paid to municipalities for their provision of residual materials management services, and will give Recyc-Quebec greater authority in order to implement Quebec's policy on residual materials management for the 1998-2008 period.

The proposed compensation system will be based on agreements concluded between municipalities and various relevant business and industry associations. Recyc-Quebec will function as a guide, trustee and, as required, arbiter in facilitating these accords.

The amendments will also give the corporation the authority to approve the residual materials management plans that regional municipalities are required to develop under the EQ Act.

The effect of these amendments will be to forge a closer alliance among municipalities, industry groups and Recyc-Quebec with regard to the process of managing residual materials. Industry and municipal representatives will have to collaborate in determining the contribution each industry or business will make to municipalities for the management services provided for containers, packages, packaging materials or printed matter.

This clause has drawn opposition from an Recyclemedias, an industry group representing Quebec's print media (dailies, weeklies and magazines). This material, it says, should not be categorized as waste in the same class as glass bottles, plastic containers and other product packaging. Printed materials play an important role in the current collection system because the resale value of the paper helps offset the cost of the collection/recycling system as a whole, says the group. In its view, the assessment to be paid by the industry to fund municipal collection/recycling services constitutes a new hidden tax.

The second piece of legislation, Bill 99, will amend the EQ Act so as to streamline permitting for industry operations. The first of its two measures will allow permit holders to apply to have all authorization certificates granted under section 22 of the EQ Act for a single enterprise or operation consolidated into a single document. The bill specifies that no modifications will be allowed to conditions in the consolidated permits that would diminish the level of environmental protection provided for in the original permits.

The second measure will allow the consolidation of an establishment's operating terms, including those outlined in authorization certificates issued under section 22 of the EQ Act. For industries and businesses, this will facilitate compliance with the specified terms, clarify their obligations and reduce administrative activities. For the Environment Ministry, the legislation will simplify and streamline compliance and monitoring activities.

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