Fines for citizens and businesses that incorrectly sort their garbage


In the trash, bad habits! To encourage their population to properly sort their garbage, regions are beginning to impose fines on offenders. A measure set to expand as the environmental and financial costs of poor sorting increase year on year.

« For two years, we have documented, raised awareness, made rounds to inform… but there comes a time when you reach the end of the process », explains Nathalie Drapeau, the general manager of the intermunicipal management of residual materials of the Gaspesie. It now intends to impose fines on the people of Gaspé who persist in missorting their garbage.

This power, which the board could already exercise in the RCM of Rocher-Percé, therefore now extends to the most populous city in the Gaspé territory. « When it’s been 5 or 6 times that you repeat the same thing and there is no change, believes Mme Flag, it’s time to think about imposing sanctions. »

A squad of green agents will inspect the contents of the bins to ensure proper sorting of residual materials. In the event of a violation, offenders will be given simple courtesy tickets. If, after a few reminders, the person or institution continues to missort its residual materials, the board intends to apply monetary penalties.

These will vary, for citizens, from $250 to $300 for a first offence. In the event of a repeat offense, the amount doubles, going from $500 to $600, plus costs. Fines are higher for businesses, institutions and industries. The first offense, for them, will cost $500 to $600; the second, from $1,000 to $1,200, plus expenses.

Delinquency in terms of triage represents a real issue, particularly in remote areas, where transportation and landfill costs quickly inflate the bill. « It can reach $140, even $145 to bury a ton, » says Mme Flag. Meanwhile, selling a ton of cardboard or metal not only saves landfill costs, but also earns you up to $200.

From nappies to recycling

The board notes, in its 2021 report, that of all landfilled materials from the residential sector, only 21% was real waste. This means that out of more than 7,600 metric tons of materials thrown away by the residences of Gaspé and the MRC of Rocher-Percé, approximately 5,000 should have ended up in recycling, compost or the ecocentre.

In its report, the management also notes that half of the residences on its territory never took out the brown bin reserved for compost in 2021. In its blue recycling bins, it found 12% of contaminants – i.e., in total, 560 tonnes of prohibited material. It is not uncommon, underlines Nathalie Drapeau, to find, pell-mell with cardboard, glass and plastic, baby diapers, food, clothing, even “tank transmissions”.

As for construction materials, 20% ended up in the dump, even if it was still possible to recover them.

A precedent in Témiscamingue

The MRC of Témiscamingue has also decided to impose financial penalties on offenders. Since the beginning of the summer, it has had the power to issue fines in the event of poor sorting of waste.

“I see a parallel with what we are doing in road safety, explains the prefect Claire Bolduc. It’s constant work, we can’t say that because we raised awareness once, everyone knows it. As soon as you let go, bad habits take over. »

The MRC devotes 3.2 million dollars to the management of its residual materials out of a budget of 12. The costs of transporting the waste to the Rouyn landfill site, more than 100 km from Ville-Marie, the most populous municipality in the MRC, turn out to be « enormous ».

“The cost as such, yes, it’s annoying, concedes the prefect, but it’s really the overall loss that is disturbing. I am 64 years old, I have more behind me than ahead. But for those who will follow us, all these small elements will end up making a good difference, at some point. It is our environment to everyone. »

Symbolic fines

The MRC de Témiscamingue has decided to impose symbolic fines of up to $50 for a first offence, $100 for a repeat offense and $150 for a third offence.

The sanction will remain the tool to force the hand of those « who do not want to understand and who will never understand », adds Bolduc. For others, the MRC relies more on support to encourage good habits.

Nathalie Drapeau also relies first and foremost on raising awareness, particularly among vacationers, who have increased the volume of residual materials in the RCM of Rocher-Percé by 32% in just five months. She also believes that governments could do more to facilitate citizen sorting.

“We weren’t brilliant enough in Quebec to adopt the same bin colors everywhere. In the Bois-Franc, a citizen has a green bin for recyclables but when he arrives in Gaspésie, the green bin is used for garbage, she laments. Also, the display could be simplified. At some point, when you have 32 different kinds of plastic, it’s also normal for people to feel a bit lost. »

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