The prevention in actions seen by Quebec

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The prevention in actions seen by Quebec

Maryse VermetteEEQ: Eco Entreprises Quebec speaks to CNE

Created by companies that put containers, packaging and printed matter on Quebec’s market, Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ) is a private non-profit organization approved by the government of Quebec under the 2005 Environment Quality Act. Maryse Vermette, CEO, will be answering our questions.


Could you tell us briefly about EEQ’s missions?

Éco Entreprises Québec is the organization that develops the Schedule of Contributions and collects company contributions, which are then redistributed to finance municipal curbside recycling services in Quebec. EEQ also fosters innovation and best practices in order to optimize the recyclable materials value chain. To do so, EEQ cooperates both with companies to reduce material quantities at the source and encourage the use of recyclable materials, and with municipalities and other stakeholders, to increase recycling and the economic value of recovered materials. ÉEQ numbers over 3,000 contributing companies and organizations that put containers, packaging and printed matter on Quebec’s market. They have been required under the Environmental Quality Act (EQA) to compensate 100% of the net costs of municipal curbside recycling services since 2013.


EEQ has drawn its inspiration from the CNE’s prevention literature. Both organizations have been partners for a long time, how do you foresee your collaboration shaping up?

We need both our organizations to continue to work together – we need to share our respective practices, the result of our work on packaging optimization, the information we gather from packaging monitoring. EEQ is following closely the evolution of the Eco-Emballages (Eco-Packaging) website and its BEE (Environmental Assessment of Packaging) application.


What goals could the CNE and the EEQ aim for in order to best serve packaging interests?

We have to ensure that companies make eco-design and packaging optimization part and parcel of their business process. Companies must be encouraged to choose concrete actions and circulate them. The optimization and communication tools exist, now we need companies to start using them, to be proactive and implement these tools, to show their leadership. We have to decide upon common, measurable goals regarding packaging optimization, and develop messages standardized to each government and authority.


What are the main packaging issues in Quebec? What are the problems EEQ is addressing?

Firstly, the appearance of new and difficult to recycle packaging. These have a negative impact on the recycling industry.

Secondly, over-packaging of imported goods, especially electronics and toys. The food industry, very active, is more of a leader in this field.

Lastly, EEQ is a curbside recycling optimizer in Quebec. As such, it forms partnerships with different packaging manufacturing sectors in order to help the people who design the packaging – brandowners, members of EEQ – collaborate with recycling and sorting agents and consumers.

EEQ also strives to identify the optimization levers for packaging and printed matter curbside recycling, and to implement best practices concerning eco-design and municipal curbside recycling programs management.


You will be attending the 2014 Emballage Packaging Exhibition in Paris, and specifically, the second international round table – without giving any spoilers, could you briefly tell us about the importance of circular economy and eco-design in Quebec?

EEQ is currently working to secure a partnership with universities and research groups interested in circular economy – as of now, we are studying a partnership project for 2015. In addition to the OptimEco optimization portal and the online registration tool OptimAction both launched in the fall of 2013, EEQ recently published on the Internet an optimization kit promoting eco-design.

This kit helps managers integrate eco-design to existing business processes by providing:

  • Explanations on eco-design concepts
  • A description of potential benefits and leverages for improvement
  • Steps for implementing an eco-design initiative – so company managers know where to begin – and practical strategies for mobilizing teams and business partners
  • Personal accompaniment

The kit also breaks down common myths and misconceptions about eco-design. You can download the OptimEco kit executive summary and the press release on its implementation.

We are currently working with several business associations and Chambers of Commerce in order to make available optimization tools for companies better known. We are also offering, in collaboration with specialized partners Quantis Canada and the IDP (Institute for Product Development) a customized training course on eco-design for businesses and guidance services for companies. We are also supporting universities from Quebec and encouraging them to adapt their academic training by adding or further developing the concept of eco-design in industrial design courses. You can read our report on the PackPlay initiative that EEQ contributed to this fall. It affects several European universities, among which the University of Nantes, in France.


Is there another topic you would like to discuss in this newsletter?

We need to raise governmental awareness – packaging optimization is part of a process of behavior change that affects both consumer and company, and raising awareness and providing information is of the utmost importance when managing any type of behavior change. Coercive regulation is not a solution. We need to fix realistic and measurable goals that take the behavior change process into account. That is why EEQ is currently working with the Responsible Consumption Observatory of UQAM (University of Quebec in Montreal) to analyze citizens’ attitude and expectations regarding consumption and especially packaged products.