86 % of recycled glass ends up in the trash

News 5 February, 2018
  • Archival Photo PIERRE-PAUL POULIN
    The company Owens-Illinois is the largest manufacturer of glass packaging in the world and it operates a plant in Montreal (on the photo). Their main supplier, 2M Resources, it must import the glass abroad, in order to meet the demand of the giant.

    Anne Caroline Desplanques

    Monday, February 5, 2018 01:00

    Monday, February 5, 2018 01:00

    Look at this article

    The majority of the glass recovered in Quebec is not recycled, but rather thrown in the trash at great expense, while the few recyclers of glass by lack of raw material.

    Quebecers have recovered 159 000 tonnes of glass in 2015, according to the most recent report by Recyc-Québec. Only 14% have found a second life. The rest is the basis of recovery on landfill sites.

    “This is outrageous, growls Gaston Michaud, of the committee of citizens Operation Glass-Green. As a factor of cynicism as a citizen, it is difficult to go further. “

    It indicates that it costs on average $ 30 per ton to send glass to landfill.

    “The landfill sites, it is their case that one does not recycle the glass. If we do not pay to take it, they should buy the gravel as the field of recovery, ” explains Mr. Michaud.

    Big business

    “The landfills are filling the pockets with it, this is a big business “, critic David Rousseau, director-general of 2M Resources.

    Photo Pierre-Paul Poulin

    David Rousseau
    Director-general of 2M Resources

    His company picks up the glass to sort it, clean it, and crush. It sells to manufacturers that make new containers.

    2M Resources has the capacity to process almost all of the glass recovered in Quebec, but she prefers to source abroad because of the poor quality of our sorting system.

    “The glass that is routed from the sorting centres is very contaminated, it is mixed with other materials, so we must pay for disposal,” explains Mr. Rousseau.

    The problem, says Karel Ménard of the Front commun québécois pour the ecological management of waste, it is that the glass is too fragile for our system recovery jumble.

    Thrown in the bins, and then in the truck, it ends up in shards and contaminates all other materials : bales of paper, those of plastics, and even the skin of the workers.


    “The workers are injured in the sorting centers when handling broken glass, the content of which often comes to trash other materials,” said president of the Confederation of national trade unions (CSN), Jacques Létourneau.

    In addition, as our recovery will remain contaminated by the glass, it will be difficult to convince China, the largest recycler in the world, we open its doors again, ” said Mr. Ménard.

    Of the companies in lack of this recyclable material

    While the glass recovered in Quebec ends up in the trash, packers and glass manufacturers of containers have to import their raw material from abroad.

    This is the case of Owens-Illinois, the largest manufacturer of glass packaging in the world, which operates a factory in the neighbourhood of Pointe-Saint-Charles, Montréal. While in Italy, the company incorporates 80 % recycled glass to manufacture new containers, here she is struggling to reach the 30 %.

    2M Resources is the leading supplier of Owens-Illinois. But to meet the demand of the giant glassmaker, the SME must also be supplied overseas and has had to invest $ 6 million since 2013 in order to manage the glass contaminated the sorting centres.


    To provide glass to the highest quality conditioners and recyclers, Eco-Entreprise Québec, the organization that finances the selective collection, has announced an investment plan of$ 6.7 Million last summer, to modernize the sorting centres.

    The plan is to add a sorting line to extract the glass, ” explains Karel Ménard of the Front commun québécois pour the ecological management of waste.

    The problem, he said, is that the addition of this line will cost up to$ 1 Million for the larger sorting centers.

    “Does one have the means to do this for all sorting centres ? I doubt it ” blows Mr. Ménard.

    His organization advocates rather to change our way of sorting at the source by introducing a set of bottles of wine and spirits, and putting on the bells of recovery available to the citizens, as is done in Europe with success.

    Record the glass

    The trade unions call for them also the deposit, which, in addition to protecting the environment, creates jobs, they say.

    “We are one of the only provinces in the country do not have deposit on bottles of wine and spirits and you can see where it has led us, with rates famished recycling and recovery “, growls the president of CUPE-Quebec, and Denis Bolduc.

    Called several times over the years, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), which has sold 218 million bottles in 2015-2016, has always opposed the instruction, which it deems too expensive.

    In 2014, the State corporation indicated that it would invest$ 250 Million over five years to implement the instruction in his branches. Eight years earlier, it was estimated that the deposit would cost$ 36 Million to be implanted, and then$ 25 Million in annual costs.