7.4. Ban the disposal of organic material
In 2008, 12% of table scraps and yard waste generated by the municipal sector in Québec was recovered and reclaimed. The remainder was largely landfilled. The same year, 31% of municipal wastewater sludge and 26% of paper mill sludge was landfilled. When landfilled this waste decomposes, leading to a variety of harmful impacts on the environment, including greenhouse gas emission. Recycling these materials helps prevent these impacts while creating jobs and providing useful products as well as energy. The same is true of the rest of organic materials such as paper and cardboard, which mostly end up in landfills if not collected and recycled. To ensure that organic materials are managed with greater respect for the environment and in a way that spurs economic activity and helps meet the objectives of the Climate Change Action Plan and the Québec Energy Plan, the government wants to ban disposal of organic waste.
First, the necessary collection services and treatment facilities must be available. As paper, cardboard, and wood recycling is already well established, the government intends to begin by banning the disposal of these materials and follow up with other putrescible organic material, such as leaves, grass clippings, table scraps, and sludge. It will develop a timetable for implementing measures to speed up the establishment of the required collection systems and treatment facilities, as well as the terms of a ban, taking into account the features of certain methods for managing putrescible organic materials, including industrial and municipal sludge.
At the same time, the government wants to ensure that waste organic material diverted from disposal sites is handled in such a way as to maximize its value. Leaving grass clippings in place and household or community composting, both of which reduce at source the amount of putrescible organic materials to be managed, should be encouraged first. Non-putrescible organic material such as paper, cardboard, and wood should preferably be returned to the production cycle for these materials rather than used for other forms of reclamation, including energy production. Moreover, recycling of putrescible organic material by landspreading, composting and biomethanation with a view to enrich soils, must be favoured over other forms of reclamation such as energy recovery.
The government will help fund the necessary infrastructures to foster the recycling of putrescible organic materials. This financial support will encourage the development of biological treatment technologies that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will take action to ensure that landspreading is permitted when conditions are safe for health and the environment, and it is beneficial agronomically. It will also promote the development of new uses and markets for compost and digester sludge. In addition, the government will ensure that treatment facilities for organic matter are properly managed.
The government also wants to make sure that treatment of residual organic matter produces energy to replace fossil fuels whenever environmental, social, and economic conditions permit.