Curbside recycling for retail businesses: explaining and understanding new contribution rates

For the past 15 years, companies and organizations that market containers, packaging and printed matter (CP&PM) intended for consumers have been required to pay a contribution to finance curbside recycling and submit a material report to ÉEQ to this effect. In fact, it is companies that finance municipal curbside recycling services through the Schedule of Contributions developed by Éco Entreprises Québec and published each year in the Gazette officielle du Québec. Read on to understand the main economic factors that influenced the development of the 2023 Schedule of Contributions.

Curbside recycling

The Schedule of Contributions, which include the rules of application and the contribution table, is a legal document that provides a framework for companies to find out if they are subject to the Act, to understand their obligations and to consult the applicable rate for each material. Each year, the amount of the contribution is obtained by multiplying the quantity of each material put on the market by the rate applicable to that material, as indicated in the contribution table for the year in question, and then adding up all these amounts.

Building on 2022 measures and reglementation changes

In 2022, several regulatory changes have had a significant impact on the rate table and the application rules. Rates were particularly affected by the abolition of the barriers between material categories, which either positively or negatively impacted the rates for all materials. To address the need for fairness to other companies, e-commerce platforms outside Quebec were also targeted: a long-standing request.

Introduced in November 2022, the 2023 Schedule of Contributions is being introduced in a context of stability and transition. Although we are living through the most difficult economic times in decades, the economy has continued to grow, despite a sharp rise in inflation and a labour shortage that has affected all sectors of the economy. As consumer behaviour was disrupted by the pandemic, many had no choice but to turn to online shopping and home meal deliveries, a habit that has since been maintained and has increased the amount of packaging going into our recycling bins. All of these factors have a direct impact on the management of curbside recycling, both in terms of collection costs and sorting costs.

A great performance on the markets leads to better rates!

Despite a decrease in rates for some categories this year (average decrease in contribution of 5.7%), inflation, the general increase in service costs and the volatility of material prices on the market mean that a rate increase could be expected for next year’s Schedule of Contributions, although several factors can influence them.

Although the socio-economic context has not favoured rates per unit, other factors have managed to positively influence the 2023 Schedule of Contributions, namely: major investments in modernizing sorting center equipment to meet recyclers’ quality criteria, a more advantageous materials market, with historically high prices and, finally, a slight increase in the quantities of materials reported. These three factors helped mitigate the impact of inflation, but also improved the overall results.

As you can see, different parameters influence material rates, the total costs of curbside recycling, the recovery rate of each material and the net cost of each material in the system. 

Monitoring a possible change of rates for producers 

Of course, the initiatives of companies that design containers and packaging from more recyclable materials are rewarded through eco-modulation principles. The extension of the measures introduced in the last Schedules of Contributions and the addition of a new material mark the 2023 Schedule of Contributions.

1- Polypropylene (PP) Rate Ecomodulation—New

Since the 2022 Schedule of Contributions, polypropylene (plastic No. 5) had been disaggregated from other plastics, although its rate remained the same. Considering that it benefits from a higher recovery rate and a better resale value, compared to other plastics, with which it was previously aggregated, polypropylene will benefit from a better rate as of the 2023 Schedule of Contributions.

2- Porcelain Rate—New

Since the 2021 Schedule of Contributions, ceramic containers and packaging have been subject to a fee, considering that they are found in the curbside recycling and that they are a disruptive material that has no outlet at the sorting center. Since porcelain is a material that behaves similarly to ceramic, ÉEQ has chosen to assign the same rate to it starting with the 2023 Schedule of Contributions. If you are marketing porcelain, be sure to include it on your next year report.

3- Renewal of the eco-design incentive bonus for a third year

The eco-design bonus, which was introduced as a pilot project during the 2021 Schedule of Contributions, has been renewed for a third year since many companies have shown their growing interest. This bonus is an additional incentive offered to companies that have taken steps to reduce their footprint.
Did your company innovate this year and want to qualify for the bonus? Stay tuned for upcoming registration dates.

4- Future eco-modulation measures—Malus for two materials starting in 2024

Announced during the 2022 Schedule of Contributions’ consultations, a malus on polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and a malus on degradable plastics will be applied as of the 2024 Schedule of Contributions. These will make it possible to increase the responsibility of companies that market them, in addition to discouraging packaging practices and the choice of materials that are not compatible with curbside recycling in Quebec. For the sake of predictability and to give contributing companies time to adjust, the terms of the eco-modulation and the extent of the malus will be developed and communicated by ÉEQ in the coming year.

5- Penalty for failure to register and report

ÉEQ is introducing a new measure to promote compliance and enhance fairness. This penalty for failure to register and report will be applicable to companies that do not comply, despite our communication efforts. ÉEQ will communicate with the associations whose members may be affected so that they can relay the information and thus reinforce their compliance.

As you can see, the 2023 Schedule of Contributions is marked by some changes and its publication by the government of Quebec should take place this summer. Until then, all companies are invited to consult the draft Schedule of Contributions that was submitted to RECYC-QUÉBEC last December. In the context of the modernization of curbside recycling and considering the implementation of the extended deposit system planned for the coming year, ÉEQ will ask, starting with the 2023 Schedule of Contributions, that contributing companies report separately the materials that will become refundable from those that will remain non-refundable. More details will be communicated in due course.

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