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Clean Technologies and Québec’s New Residual Materials Management Policy

The Québec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks (MDDEP) recently published its new Residual Materials Management Policy, along with a first Five-Year Action Plan for 2010-2015 (together, "the Policy"). The Policy aims to promote the goals of the Climate Change Action Plan and the Québec Energy Strategy.

In order to reduce, by 2015, the quantity of disposed residual materials to 700 kilograms per person, the Policy is implementing 10 measures to foster the growth of the recycling and energy production industries. One is banning the burial of organic matter in Québec.

By 2013, the MDDEP intends to ban the burial of paper and cardboard, beginning in 2010 with the development of a strategy for banning the burial of all categories of putrescible organic materials. By 2020, the ban will include leaves and grass cuttings, table scraps, and sludge from septic tanks and from purification of wastewater, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to recover useful products such as biogas. The Policy’s goal is to — by 2015 — recycle 70 per cent of paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal waste, and to process 60 per cent of organic putrescible residual material using biological processes such as composting and biomethanation.

The MDDEP has taken measures to meet these goals, including: i) the implementation of an infrastructure program for municipalities and private-sector promoters to develop biological treatment facilities for organic matter using biomethanation (anaerobic digestion) and composting; and ii) the publication of a Draft Regulation Respecting Financial Guarantees Payable for the Operation of an Organic Matter Reclamation Facility.

Program for Processing Organic Matter using Biomethanation and Composting

The new program for processing organic matter using biomethanation and composting provides for financial assistance to municipalities and private-sector promoters for the purpose of implementing biological treatment facilities for organic matter using biomethanation and composting. The program took effect on November 16, 2009, and will last until September 30, 2013; the total budget of the MDDEP for this program is $650 million.

The program provides for financial assistance to a private-sector promoter of up to
25 per cent of the eligible costs for implementation of a biomethanation project, or of up to 20 per cent of the eligible costs for implementation of a composting project.

For biomethanation projects, residual materials that can be treated under the program include waste of domestic, industrial, commercial or institutional origin, residual organic materials likely to be treated by anaerobic digestors, municipal and industrial sludge, sludge from septic tanks, and farming residual materials (overall, 10 per cent of the volume of treated organic matter). These types of residual materials are also considered eligible for composting, in addition to digestors’ sludge produced by biomethanation facilities.

Under the program, a project must meet specific conditions, including the following:
i) the realization of any project must have started after January 1, 2008; ii) only organic matters generated in Québec will be treated in facilities subsidized by the program; iii) biogas resulting from any biomethanation project will have to be used to replace fuel or fossil fuel used in Québec; and iv) any composting project subsidized by the program will have to have a yearly treatment capacity of more than 100 tonnes.

Also, any eligible projects under the program will have to submit to the program authorities, a greenhouse gas declaration (GHG) validated by a third party in compliance with ISO-14064 Standards and, for each of the first five years of operation of the facility, a report verified by a third party indicating the effective and verified downward adjustment of GHG emissions.

Draft Regulation

The draft regulation, published in Part 2 of the Gazette officielle du Québec on November 25, 2009, requires financial guarantees to be provided by the operator of an organic matter reclamation facility.

The draft regulation applies to both new and existing re-use facilities. Under sections 2 and 3 of the draft regulation, the operator of an organic matter reclamation facility where sorting, transfer, storage or treatment operations are carried out for the purpose of their reclamation, whose yearly treatment capacity is more than 100 tonnes, and which is subject to the obligation to obtain a certificate of authorization pursuant to section 22 of the Environment Quality Act, must provide to the MDDEP mandatory financial guarantees for expenses associated with the operation of this facility.

The amount of the guarantee required varies between $25/tonne and $100/tonne, on the basis of the category of the facility and the total capacity authorized (pursuant to section 4 of the draft regulation).

Public consultation on the draft regulation was held from November 25, 2009 to January 24, 2010. A new version should be published and adopted within the next months.

McCarthy Tétrault Notes:

The financial incentives offered by the program and the tightening of regulations regarding disposal of residual organic materials and GHG emissions will foster the development of clean technologies in Québec. Development is already apparent in North America and Europe.