Originally published in Blakes Bulletin on Environmental
Law, May 2009
On May 20, 2009, Éco Entreprises Québec
(ÉEQ) put its reporting and payment system online, making it
easier for companies to help pay for curbside recycling programs in
Industry in Quebec began paying these dues in 2007, for
reporting year 2005/2006. The next reporting and payment deadlines
(for 2007) are August 5 and September 4, 2009, respectively.
Returns can be filed, and dues paid, at http://www.ecoentreprises.qc.ca .
Quebec's Environment Quality Act provides that
companies may be required to pay a portion of the cost of recycling
the containers, packaging and printed matter used to market their
products. Under Quebec's extended producer liability program,
industry associations such as ÉEQ are responsible for
adopting fee schedules (subject to government approval) and
collecting fees from member companies. ÉEQ hands over the
fees to RECYC-QUEBEC, which in turn distributes the money to
municipalities, to help pay for up to 50% of the cost of their
curbside recycling programs. A different industry association,
ReycleMédias, collects dues for written media. Written media
is distinguished from printed matter in that it delivers news,
opinion or comments at fixed intervals (at least once a year).
Draft fee schedules are published in the Quebec Official Gazette
every year and include information on exemptions, dispute
settlement procedures, and other related issues. Interest charges
apply for late reporting and the schedule of contributions sets a
date after which penalties will be imposed. For the 2007 reporting
year, the deadline is November 4, 2009. In the current schedule,
penalties are 10% of the contribution owed, rising to 20% if
ÉEQ has to pursue legal action to collect the dues.
Inclusions and Exemptions
The owner of a brand, name or "distinguishing guise"
is required to pay dues in relation to: i) containers and packaging
used for marketing a product under its brand in Quebec; ii)
containers and packaging identified by its brand; and iii) printed
materials identified by its brand. If, however, the owner of a
brand has no place of business in Quebec, the first supplier may be
required to pay the dues even if he or she did not import the
products. Containers and packaging that are added to a product in a
retail outlet are exempted from dues unless the retail outlet is
operated under a franchise from the brand owner or a similar
For 2007, there are three additional important exemptions. Where
consignment systems (such as for beer bottles) or recycling
programs are already in place, participating companies are exempt
from paying dues to ÉEQ. Companies that have only one retail
outlet or have revenues under C$1-million are exempted. Finally,
companies producing less than a metric ton of covered materials are
The fee schedule contains a price index for each class of
material that is used to calculate an annualized contribution
amount based on weight. Companies that produce between one and five
metric tons of covered materials can opt to pay a lump sum.
What is meant by "containers",
"packaging" and "printed matter"
Containers and packaging include materials used to contain,
protect, wrap or present a product at any point in the supply
chain. The following important exemptions apply:
1) containers and packaging whose ultimate user is a commercial
or industrial establishment;
2) transport packaging, unless also used for the delivery of the
product to the consumer;
3) containers and packaging themselves sold as products, unless
given free of charge;
4) containers and packaging made to protect a product throughout
its use, if designed to last for five years or more; and
5) containers and packaging that are taken into charge at the
distribution site, for example, french fries and burger boxes used
by fast food restaurants where the food is consumed on the
The "printed matter" category covers a wide range of
materials, from annual reports to telephone books and complimentary
calendars. However, books and written media are always excluded
from this category.
To avoid additional costs and to maintain positive business
relationships down the supply chain, all brand owners operating in
Quebec or selling products here should be aware of this
contribution system. Failure to make declarations and pay dues on
time can result in penalties and can negatively impact retailers
who may face claims from ÉEQ for unpaid dues.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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