Laval, September 3 2015 — The Teamsters have been eagerly awaiting the release of a report by Université Laval CREATE (Centre de recherche en économie de l’environnement, de l’agroalimentaire des transports et de l’énergie) on the performance of selective collection and bottle deposit fee systems.
The Teamsters Union represents thousands of workers at Sleeman, Labatt, and Molson whose livelihoods could be affected by the conclusion of this report.
The report proposes three options for the provincial government to consider for refillable containers (such capped brown beer bottles) and disposable single-use containers (such as beer cans):
- Expand the deposit fee system to other containers
- Transfer to selective collection
- Increase the current deposit fee
Historically, the Teamsters have always favoured the private deposit system for capped brown beer bottles both for economic and environmental reasons.
From an economic standpoint, the jobs created by the filling and deposit return of capped brown beer bottles provide a decent living for thousands of Quebec families. Moreover, these workers pay taxes and income taxes that contribute to Quebec’s economic health. Close to 25,000 direct and indirect jobs are created by the breweries.
From an environmental standpoint, 98% of capped brown beer bottles are recovered and reused between 12 and 17 times before being crushed, melted and produced into new bottles. These bottles are considered the greenest containers.
On the other hand, beer cans all too often end up in landfills or recycling bins.
This is why the Teamsters Union recommends that the penalty brewers pay to Recyc-Québec when they sell more than 37% of their beer in single-use containers (such as cans) be maintained. The union also has no objection to the government’s raising the minimum price of cans in order to motivate consumers to opt for capped brown bottles.
“Many European countries have moved away from cans,” said Teamsters Local Union 1999 president Serge Bérubé, who represents thousands of workers employed by Quebec’s main breweries. “We don’t believe that the only way for breweries to boost their market share is by offering more of their beer in cans.”
These same European countries have adopted rules requiring the industry to almost exclusively use containers that can be recycled many times, such as capped brown beer bottles. On average, they account for 97% of the containers on the market. In addition to a green tax levied by Belgium, Finland and Norway, Denmark prohibits the sale of cans. Environmental legislation in these European counties is clearly stricter than in Quebec.
The Université Laval report also analyzes the pros and cons of expanding deposit to wine and spirits. For the Teamsters Union, having a deposit fee on all bottles is a viable solution.
The Quebec government has a golden opportunity to make up for lost time on this issue, particularly in relation to Alberta, by imposing a deposit on wine bottles. It can also gradually eliminate the presence of cans at landfills by encouraging consumers to purchase capped brown bottles.
The Teamsters represent thousands of workers at the Sleeman, Labatt and Molson breweries in Quebec.
The Teamsters represent 120 000 members in Canada in all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.
Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Public Relations