Recycling bin: up to half the population is confused

A Léger survey for Éco Entreprises Québec reveals the need for greater public awareness

Montréal, August 6, 2013 – For the past several years, the quantity of materials found in recycling bins, such as toys, garden hoses, pool covers and even toasters, has increased to a current level of 15%. This proportion has tripled over the past three years, and these items generate about $23 million in additional costs for the Québec curbside recycling system. These materials must not be placed in the bin. “The Léger survey, conducted in spring 2013 among 1,201 Québec households on the public’s perception of curbside recycling, has shed light on the essential role of municipalities and the government corporation, RECYC-QUÉBEC, to raise public awareness on the right materials to put in the bin,” declared Maryse Vermette, President and Chief Executive Officer of Éco Entreprises Québec.”

The survey shows that despite the public’s good recovery habits, some myths still have to be dispelled regarding what goes or does not go into the recycling bin. We learn that up to half of Quebecers believe that objects such as toys (55%), Pyrex dishes (47%) and metal toasters (19%) are items that go in the recycling bin, when this is not the case. Indeed, the survey results show that individuals sort by material (plastic, paper/cardboard, metal, glass) instead of focusing on what is really covered by curbside recycling - containers, packaging and printed matter.

A majority of individuals (78%) believe that it is the responsibility of government authorities (60% say their municipality is responsible and 18% say RECYC-QUÉBEC) to inform them what goes or does not go in the recycling bin.

“The good news is that after several years of efforts by industry and government, recovery today is very strongly rooted in the public’s lifestyle,” Ms. Vermette added. However, the right materials are not always recovered and the Government and the municipalities must inform the public more.

Companies are funding curbside recycling in Québec

The survey also shows that more than 80% of people still think that they, their municipality or the government fund curbside recycling. Only 11% know that companies are financing the net costs of curbside recycling.

Under the Environment Quality Act and the Régime de compensation pour les services municipaux de collecte selective (Compensation plan for municipal curbside recycling services), the companies that generate containers, packaging and printed matter on the Québec market pay more than $100 million a year to compensate the municipal curbside recycling services. “In a context where citizens and consumers are increasingly well informed, we are surprised that a greater proportion of taxpayers do not know the funding source of their municipal curbside recycling service. Companies from now on assume 100% of the net collection, transportation, sorting and conditioning costs of curbside recycling. This is a large amount of money and this contribution must be noted in the perspective of development of the value chain in the recovery stream in Québec,” Ms. Vermette added.

Non-designated materials: a question at the core of a draft regulatory amendment

Over the next few weeks, a draft regulation to amend the compensation plan should be adopted by the Gouvernement du Québec. The question at the core of this draft regulation concerns non-designated materials under the compensation plan for municipal curbside recycling services. The Government wants to settle this question by requiring municipalities and companies to pay equal shares, which the contributing companies categorically refuse. Indeed, the contributing companies, which completely fulfill their financial obligations regarding the environment under one of the most demanding regulatory frameworks in North America, believe that the municipalities must assume the costs of materials that do not go in the recycling bin, because they are responsible for management of curbside recycling. It appears obvious that more public awareness and education will quickly reduce the proportion of materials that do not belong in the recycling bin. This is a responsibility of the municipalities and the provincial government.

About Éco Entreprises Québec<

Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ) is a private, non-profit organization created by companies that put containers, packaging and printed matter on Quebec’s market. ÉEQ was certified by RECYC-QUÉBEC to establish a fee structure and collect contributions from companies in order to compensate the net costs of municipal curbside recycling. The organization is also involved in a number of initiatives to optimize the recyclable materials value chain, particularly to reduce quantities at the source, enhance curbside recycling and reduce its costs, as well as improve materials recycling and the economic value of recovered materials.


Raphaëlle Cyr Lelièvre
Advisor, Public Relations
H+K Stratégies
418 425-0973
For Éco Entreprises Québec

Questions on the survey methodology:
Sébastien Dallaire
Assistant Vice-President, Léger

514 982-2464

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