Buried retailers of empty cans and bottles

Retailers and recycling companies are crumbling like never before under empty returnable containers after a month of “deconfinement” of the deposit, a clutter that would not be on the verge of being absorbed.

The green light was given exactly one month ago for collection to restart at retailers, after almost three months had passed when consumers had collected empty bottles and cans at home. Their discipline in preserving them, then bringing them back to stores, has led to a surge of bottles and cans, in specialized shops up to the processing plant, via grocery stores.

“It’s a mess!” exclaims Rémy Du Berger, owner of three specialized convenience stores in Quebec City.

“I have never had“ voids ”like I have right now. […] I’m taken to the ears with this. We don’t have more space, he says. We all thought the world would recycle it [pendant le confinement], but no ! I can confirm that they kept everything. ”

“We stack, we stack, we stack … We are buried under the cans. Fortunately, it is a little less serious for the bottles, ”nuances the owner of Le Monde des bières, Joanie Bouchard.


Mr. Du Berger considers himself relatively fortunate: the company responsible for collecting the “voids” in its branches passes faithfully every two weeks. However, not everyone can enjoy such diligence. Joanie Bouchard noted a “big boom” in this first month of “deconfinement” of the deposit. However, “it’s going to be a month soon” that a company did not come to unload it from empty containers.

“We are at a point where we have to [y] devote another piece, ”she says, an avenue to which Rémy Du Berger has also resigned himself.

The CEO of the Association of Food Retailers, Pierre-Alexandre Blouin, worries that this congestion forces its members to have to ignore their legal obligation to collect the deposit.

“In some cases, retailers have had to start refusing to take the deposit. It is as if some waste pickers forget that we are their customers and that we are selling their product, ”he laments.

Random accidental for companies that recover this precious aluminum: the resumption of the deposit coincides with the month of June, invariably the busiest of the year.

“We are driving 150% now. […] Everyone drives like we have never driven. The system is not designed to shutdown for three months. It is okay to tell people to keep the deposit, but the system was not ready for that, ”said Recycan director of operations for all of Quebec, Frédéric Tremblay, aware of the significant collection delays.

Slow down the system

The health constraints linked to COVID-19 are also creating a stir at the company’s recycling center in Baie-d’Urfé, where truck-trailers sometimes wait by the dozen to be unloaded. The bags of non-crushed cans, favored by several retailers to prevent their employees from handling the containers, particularly complicate the operation.

“It slows down the system enormously, as much as the delay of three months. To process the same number of units, it takes three times more resources, ”reports Mr. Tremblay, indicating that the repercussions of this overload will be felt minimally over“ weeks ”.

Recyc-Québec, which mentions a “significant increase in volume”, summons the retailers “to use their automated recuperators” to “better manage the flow of containers”.

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