Glass is an inert material that doesn’t have any negative impact on the environment. This material can be reused 10 to 12 times before being recycled[1]. At this time, in Quebec, the glass that is collected in the recycling bins cannot be used to produce new bottles because it is directly contaminated by other materials. Therefore, most of the glass sent to recycling ends up being buried in the landfill with the regular trash. In order to find a solution to this problem, Recyc-Quebec mandated Quantis Canada to produce an environmental analysis of the lifecycle of recycled mixed glass.

 

First of all, the study aimed to find out whether recycling of glass is a better alternative to its burial or use in engineered landfills. The analysis then gauged the significance of the environmental benefits. At last, the study had to evaluate if the glass transportation impacts were likely to cancel the environmental benefits of the commercialization projects.

 

Generally speaking, the results confirm that it is preferable to recycle glass, from an environmental point of view, than to send it to the landfills. The analysis done by Quantis Canada proves that glass recycling or its value offers a performance that is either superior or without major difference against burial or use in engineered landfills. Moreover, the more important the environmental impacts of substituted materials by recycled glass lifecycle are, the more the project of commercialization of recycled glass offers potential environmental benefits. Furthermore, the study shows that in order to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, it is preferable to transport glass over long distances (up to 2 000 km) than to bury it or to use it locally in LETs (engeneered landfills)[2].

 

As 80%[3] of the glass found in recycling bins comes from wine bottles, Quebec believes that it is important to implement a deposit system for the bottles from the Société des Alcools du Québec[4] (SAQ). SAQ, for its part, thinks that the priority is the development of a glass micronization system (reduction of particle sizes to a millionth of a metre): this method transforms glass into a fine powder so it can be incorporated into concrete. This technology allows, amongst other things, to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and to improve the quality of concrete. Based on their study, Quatis says that the micronization of glass is the best choice for the environment[5].

Nevertheless, this procedure alone isn’t going to meet the needs of the whole province. As a matter of fact, this technology, used under licences by the manufacture Tricentris, has a maximum target of producing 6 000 tons of glass per year. Yet, the province of Quebec generated 244 000 tons of glass in 2008[6]. This way, the factory, even at its full potential, would only be able to treat 2.5% of the glass generated by Quebecers per year.

 

Sources:

 

Please note that all of the websites used as references are in French as the text was translated from French to English.

 

[1] Conseil Régional Environnement Montréal, Recyclage du verre : pas si simple, Québec, online, http://www.cremtl.qc.ca/publication/entrevues/2015/recyclage-verre-pas-si-simple, consulted on September 16th, 2016.

[2] Conseil Régional Environnement Montréal, Une étude le confirme : le recyclage du verre est plus durable que son enfouissement, Québec, April 2015, online, http://www.cremtl.qc.ca/actualites/2015/une-etude-confirme-recyclage-verre-est-plus-durable-que-son-enfouissement, consulted on September 16th, 2016.

[3] Radio-Canada, La consigne du verre au Québec, Québec, April 2015, online, http://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelles/societe/2015/04/29/001-consigne-bouteilles-verre-vin-saq.shtml, consulted on September 16th, 2016.

[4] La Presse, Feu vert à la consigne des bouteilles de vin, Québec, May 2015, online, http://www.lapresse.ca/environnement/politique-verte/201505/15/01-4869874-feu-vert-a-la-consigne-des-bouteilles-de-vin.php, consulted on September 16th, 2016.

[5] La Presse, Recyclage du verre : l’enfouissement est « la pire solution », Québec, March 2015, online,    http://www.lapresse.ca/environnement/politique-verte/201503/24/01-4855247-recyclage-du-verre-lenfouissement-est-la-pire-solution.php, consulted on September 16th, 2016.

[6] Front Commun Québécois Pour Une Gestion Écologique Des Déchets, Réponses aux arguments de la SAQ concernant la « valorisation du verre », Québec, March 2014, online, http://www.fcqged.org/pdf/Analyse_des_arguments_de_la_SAQ.pdf, consulted on September 16th, 2016.

For further reading, visit:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-glass-recycling-plants-to-get-40m-upgrade-from-business-group-1.3102026
http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/city-supports-idea-of-deposit-fees-on-wine-bottles