Residual materials management is based on a principle of action that gives priority to management methods that will have the least impact on the environment. Known as the 4R-D, this principle is defined as follows in Québec:
Unless an environmental analysis based on a goods and services life cycle approach indicates that a deviation is justified, residual materials management must give priority to source reduction, reuse, recycling (including by biological treatment or landspreading), other forms of material reclamation, energy production, and disposal, in that order.
Based on the 4R-D, the Québec Residual Materials Management Policy subscribes to sustainable development arising from the idea that things cannot continue as before and that the shortfalls of development models focused solely on economic growth must be remedied by reconsidering our methods in light of our new priorities. We must aim at economic efficiency to create an innovative, prosperous, and environmentally and socially responsible economy–in short, a green economy.
The measures recommended under the Policy support this vision and the principles set forth in the Sustainable Development Act (chapter Q-2), particularly social equity and solidarity, environmental protection, economic efficiency, participation and commitment, access to knowledge, subsidiarity, prevention, responsible production and consumption, the “polluter pays” principle, and internalization of costs.
Social equity and solidarity
Development must be undertaken in a spirit of intra- and inter-generational equity and social ethics and solidarity.
To achieve sustainable development, environmental protection must be an integral part of the development process.
Québec and its regions must have a strong economy conducive to innovation and prosperity that leads to social progress and respects the environment.
Participation and commitment
The participation and commitment of citizens and citizens’ groups are needed to define a concerted vision of development and ensure its environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
Access to knowledge
Measures to promote education, access to information, and research must be encouraged in order to spur innovation and improve public awareness and effective participation in the implementation of sustainable development.
Powers and responsibilities must be delegated at the appropriate level of authority. Decision-making venues must be properly distributed, with a view to ensuring they are as close as possible to the citizens and communities concerned.
Preventive, mitigative, and corrective measures must be put in place in the presence of a known risk, preferably at the source.
Responsible production and consumption
Production and consumption patterns must be changed in order to make production and consumption more viable and more socially and environmentally responsible, in particular through an ecoefficient approach that avoids waste and optimizes the use of resources.
Those who generate pollution or whose actions otherwise degrade the environment must bear their share of the cost of measures to prevent, reduce, control, and mitigate environmental damage.
Internalization of costs
The value of goods and services must reflect all the costs they generate for society during their whole life cycle, from their design to their final consumption and disposal.