Reform of the deposit on beverage containers | Quebec calls bottlers to their responsibilities

Quebec refuses to vouch for the bottlers responsible for managing the deposit on beverage containers, recalling that it is up to them alone to finance the new system. The organization they set up is also the target of at least two investigations by the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST), we learned. The Press.

Saying that it was struggling to find the funds necessary to expand the deposit system, the Association québécoise de Récuperation des Containers de Beverages (AQRCB), made up of companies marketing products sold in returnable containers, had sent at the end of February an “urgent request” for a loan guarantee to the Legault government.

She claimed to face “significant difficulties in securing the necessary financing (for her mission) from financial institutions”, attributing their reluctance to the duration of her mandate as manager of the deposit system, which is five years.

Quebec responded in the negative to this request at the beginning of May, confirmed to The Press the office of the Minister of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks, Benoit Charette.

The Ministry cannot give a loan guarantee, since this goes against the principle of extended producer responsibility, which is at the heart of the reform of the deposit system led by Minister Charette, explains his office.

The Ministry, however, sent the AQRCB a “letter of comfort” aimed at reassuring financial institutions about the financial responsibility of bottlers, and offered to support their organization in its efforts.

The AQRCB plans to open 200 return locations reserved for returnable containers by the 1er March 2025, when the deposit will be extended to all beverage containers from 100 milliliters to 2 liters that are not yet depositable, such as glass wine bottles or multi-layer cardboard containers for milk and juice, and 400 places by 2026 – it has only opened 2 so far.

The organization estimates “the scale of the initial investments necessary for the deployment of the deposit system” at around $200 million, with each return location expected to cost between $500,000 and $600,000.

No impact

The AQRCB refused to grant an interview to The Pressbut affirmed in an email sent by a public relations firm that Quebec’s decision would not have an impact on the deployment of the network of return locations.

The loan guarantee is not necessary to obtain the financing required to set up the network, says the AQRCB, which did not specify why it had requested it.

The AQRCB has also not explained why companies that market products sold in returnable containers, such as large brewers, producers of soft drinks and juices, and soon the Société des alcools du Québec, do not guarantee not themselves the financing of the system for which they are responsible.

“For obvious reasons, we are not going to elaborate,” replied the representative of the public relations firm, who declined to be named.

CNESST investigations

The AQRCB is also targeted by two CNESST investigations, we learned The Press.

The organization which ensures respect for rights and obligations in matters of work is looking in particular at “possible risks associated” with the transport and handling of large sums of money by employees, without security measures, a situation reported by The Press1.

“We opened an intervention file and we went to the site on April 24 to assess the situation,” said Nicolas Bégin, spokesperson for the CNESST.

An intervention report will be drawn up and given to the employer, and “corrections to working methods may be required,” he added.

The CNESST also opened an investigation for psychological harassment concerning “Soft Drinks Environment”, the organization which managed the deposit system before becoming the AQRCB – the two entities occupied the same offices and had essentially the same staff.

The details of the case remain confidential, indicated the CNESST in response to a request made under the Act respecting access to documents held by public bodies and the protection of personal information.

“Unfortunately, we cannot give you access to the documents contained in the complaint files,” indicated the person responsible for access to documents and the protection of personal information at the CNESST.

The file was sent to the Administrative Labor Tribunal, indicates the CNESST.

The AQRCB maintains that it is not the subject of any investigation by the CNESST.

1. Read “Employees “at risk” when transporting money”

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  • 5 billion
    Anticipated quantity of returnable containers that will be returned when the enlargement is completed in 2025, i.e. double before the reform



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