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Overview of MRC Pontiac’s residual waste management

Pierre Cyr
Fort-Coulonge February 12, 2023
The Government of Quebec requires that each MRC develop a plan de gestion des matières résiduelles (PGMR); a waste management plan, containing objectives to ultimately reduce environmental impacts from residual waste management, increase recycling and encourage composting programs.
The last PGMR was adopted in 2016 for the period 2016-2020 and later extended to 2022. A consultation meeting was held on Jan. 10 at the MRC offices in Campbell’s Bay to present the next PGMR which will be valid from 2023-2029. Only two citizens were present. The budget foreseen for the support of the new PGMR 2023-2029 objectives is around $350,000.
After reviewing the statistics report from the MRC and the government of Quebec on the RECYC-QUEBEC website, THE EQUITY has established that there has been an 18 per cent increase in residential waste at the MRC level between 2014 and 2020. Including commercial, institutional and construction sectors, data available indicates an overall 15 per cent increase, going from 6,865 to 7,903 metric tons.
According to the official statistics available, the performances of the MRC’s municipalities are quite variable between 2014 and 2020 with some municipalities performing better than others. In terms of residential waste, Chichester shows the best improvement (-26 per cent) followed by Campbell’s Bay and Fort-Coulonge (-5 per cent). Shawville (+84 per cent), Clarendon (+71 per cent) and Thorne (+54 per cent) are showing increases for the same period.
The average amount of residential waste for the MRC is 293 kg (646 lbs) per citizen in 2020. Only two municipalities had an average of under 200 kg per citizen, Thorne (119 kg) and Île-du-Grand-Calumet (184kg). Waltham (559 kg), Shawville (430 kg) and Sheenboro (403 kg) official numbers had results well above the MRC average.
Please see graph one for more details.

Graph 1

In terms of recycling, the data shows an over all decline of 4 per cent between 2013 and 2021 at the MRC level. However, the situation has improved somewhat between 2019 and 2021 with a slight increase of 1 per cent in recycling material collected.
It is important to note that half of the municipalities in the MRC do not offer door-to-door recycling collection, but that didn’t prevent some of them from showing a good recycling ratio. Between 2019-2021, the citizens of Bristol increased the amount of recyclable material collected by 50 per cent, followed by Clarendon (+44 per cent) and Rapide-des-Joachims (+22 per cent). Litchfield, Mansfield and Thorne showed decreases between 15 and 20 per cent between 2019 and 2021.
When looking at data between 2013-2021, Sheenboro (+68 per cent), Fort-Coulonge (+26 per cent) and Bristol (+22 per cent) have the best improvement. When looking at the average performance per citizen, Sheenboro (127 kg), Chichester (121 kg) and Bryson (115 kg) are showing a performance well above the MRC yearly average of 65 kg.
The government sets recovery targets for recyclables at 70 per cent, with the remaining recycling material being rejected by sorting facilities.
The MRC Pontiac is not able to determine if its own PGMR targets of 70 per cent have been met, as no statistics are provided by the Gatineau sorting center in this regard. Quebec also compensated the municipalities in the MRC over $600,000 in 2021 and over $650,00 in 2022 for the cost of transportation of recycling material to Gatineau.
Please see graph two for more details.

Graph 2

In terms of composting, only five municipalities out of 18 offer a drop-off point to their citizens: Chichester, Île-du-Grand-Calumet, Litchfield, Otter Lake and Sheenboro. It is estimated that around 40 per cent of domestic waste is compostable.
According to the PGMR 2023-2029 documentation, Shawville and Clarendon still do not offer drop-off locations for household hazardous waste (oil, paint, batteries, etc.) nor do they offer drop-off locations for old electronics or old tires.
The MRC’s performance in terms of adequate treatment of waste from the commercial and institutional sector (ICI) is low. Over 1000 tons of waste were disposed of and not treated for recycling in 2020. Between 2017 and 2020, there was a reduction of 47 per cent of ICI waste for the entire MRC.
Some municipalities had a surprising increase. Alleyn-et-Cawood went from one ton in 2017 to 57 tons in 2020 and Portage-du-Fort went from four to 116 tons for the same period.
Except for aggregate products, the recovery rates for construction and demolition sector (CRD) materials in 2019 were approximately 20 per cent, far from the 70 per cent target. The non-availability, for some period of time, of a processing site for CRD waste explains in part this poor performance of the MRC.
For the period 2017-2020, available data indicates an astonishing increase of 1200 per cent of CRD waste from 136 to 1632 metric tons for the whole MRC (12 times). Campbell’s Bay went from 0 to 180 metric tons, Clarendon went from 28 to 496 metric tons, Portage-du-Fort from two to 165 metric tons and Shawville from 50 to 231 metric tons.

Graph 3

Most of the CRD waste was shipped to Lachute for treatment at the cost of about $280,000 for the MRC. See graph three for more details.
The MRC representative at the public meeting confirmed that an oversight committee was in place to monitor the last PGMR 2016-2020 performance. No public reports to inform the population of the MRC were published. Some external factors like the floods had an impact on the amount of waste generated by some municipalities through the period. Thierry Raimbault, MRC environment coordinator, confirmed that a committee with regular meetings, with a member from each municipality, will monitor the performance of the new PGMR 2023-2029.
The new PGMR 2023-2029 will encourage all municipalities to have proper locations and clear indications for their citizens to drop off any items (batteries, tires, electronic goods, old paints or oil products, home appliances and green residues). The new PGMR also includes an objective to implement a sludge management program for septic and municipal systems.
With respect to CRD waste, the MRC is trying to encourage municipalities to put in place regulations requiring the sorting of recyclable materials on construction sites before waste is sent to treatment sites.
Other objectives are to raise awareness among the population and extend the recovery of recyclable materials to the entire territory of the MRC including commercial and institutional activities.
As only a few municipalities offer drop-off sites for compostable waste, one of the main objectives of the new PGMR is to promote organics recycling (composting) to the entire MRC (commercial and institutional sectors included). According to the plan, the MRC will support municipalities, businesses, institutions and citizens in the implementation of an organic waste collection system for the municipal sector.
THE EQUITY will follow up with further reports on how municipalities will meet those objectives.

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