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Sustainable development

A new eco-responsible SAQ store in the heart of Jean Talon Market!


At the SAQ, we are determined to make a real difference in sustainable development. That is why we are putting eco-responsible principles into practice in our stores. We have also obtained LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for 17 stores and 37 other certifications are currently being pursued.


Our brand new eco-responsible SAQ, currently awaiting LEED certification, is located in the heart of Montreal’s Jean Talon Market (7077, Casgrain Street, Montreal). Not only is it an outstanding showcase for local expertise and innovation, it is also a concrete example of how materials can be reused. What’s more, it integrates perfectly with the rest of the market.


Discover what makes this SAQ unique :  SAQ Marché Jean-Talon (PDF - 180 KB)




Visit our Adding Value to Glass section


Our main accomplishments

At the SAQ, we aim for all the sustainable development actions that we take to have a positive impact on the community and the individuals that comprise it. We endeavour to adopt the best sustainable development practices and strongly believe in their current and future benefits.









Elimination of single-use bags

In January 2009, the SAQ became Quebec’s first retailer to stop providing single-use plastic and paper bags. As a result, the company has reduced the number of such bags in circulation by 80 million or 4% of all paper and plastic bags in Quebec.

Giving a second life to glass and incorporating glass into concrete

At every level of the organization, the SAQ has taken steps large and small to minimize glass’s impact on communities and the environment. This “glass chain” represents a major challenge for the SAQ, as glass is an integral part of the products that it sells. To learn more about how the SAQ is giving a second life to the bottles recovered through selective collection and supporting research into and the development of real-life solutions, visit our Adding Value to Glass section.

Transporting our products the responsible way

  • All SAQ drivers are trained to optimize their driving habits (reduce speed, avoid idling) in order to save energy and minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
  • All SAQ trucks are equipped with an onboard computer that tracks driving behaviour in order to suggest improvements.
  • The SAQ works with FÉRICThis link will open in a new window., a non-profit research and development organization, by taking part in activities to test new energy efficiency solutions in transportation.
  • Various SAQ suppliers in France have been encouraged to reduce their energy consumption by using traditional barges instead of trucks to carry wine. This has allowed for several hundred thousand dollars in savings in shipping fees, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In 2009, the SAQ acquired its very first hybrid straight truck. Taking note of the vehicle’s reliability and the fuel savings achieved (on the order of 24%), we began expanding our hybrid truck fleet. In 2013, another four hybrid trucks were purchased for our delivery operations. We also added several 53-foot tri-axle trailers, which allow us to carry four pallets more on each shipment, compared with the 45-foot trailers. This reduces the number of deliveries and consequently our fuel consumption.
    • HYBRID TRUCKS: trucks with three axles, which increases their load carrying capacity (more cases per delivery). Combining three-axle trucks and hybrid technology is a first in Canada. The trucks are fitted with single wide-base rear tires, which improves their energy efficiency.
    • 53-FOOT TRAILERS: trailers equipped with single wide-base tires and aerodynamic skirts to reduce aerodynamic drag. To improve safety, the trailers have disc brakes, which perform better than conventional drum brakes.
LEED and eco-responsible stores

The SAQ has incorporated eco-responsible criteria into the design and construction specifications for all its stores. We are convinced that such initiatives can make a difference in the health of our planet, in particular by encouraging:
•    sound residual materials management
•    the use of recycled content and FSC-certified wood materials
•    the use of materials, floor finishes, paints and adhesives low in emissions that are harmful to health
•    the acquisition of more energy efficient equipment
•    concrete floors that incorporate glass powder and aggregates from recovered bottles to replace cement and limestone aggregates. For more information, visit our Adding Value to Glass section.


The SAQ’s efforts have been recognized because eight stores have obtained LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Nine other stores have applied for certification and are in the process of being certified.


LEED-certified stores


LEED Silver stores

Administrative centres

We added several sustainable development criteria to the Tellier building expansion project (the building is located near our Montreal distribution centre). These include:

  • Floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize natural lighting;
  • A floor comprising glass powder and aggregates from 129,000 recovered bottles;
  • Furnishings and paint made without special chemicals;
  • A white roof to avoid creating a heat island;
  • Geothermics for heating and air-conditioning, resulting in significant energy savings;
  • Landscaping in accordance with eco-responsible criteria.
Energy conservation

The SAQ has long worked to save energy in its buildings, cutting its energy consumption by more than 27% since 2004. It is now partnering with the National Bank, Mouvement Desjardins, Sobeys, Transcontinental and the Association québécoise pour la maîtrise de l'énergieThis link will open in a new window. (AQME) ) to establish a common goal: reducing energy consumption by up to 30% by 2013.

Green roofs and white roofs

The SAQ has adopted the policy of using only environment-friendly roof coverings when replacing or building the roofs of its administrative centres.

  • Green roof: Plants protect the underlying membrane from temperature variations and thermal shock (UV rays and precipitations), which prolongs the roof’s life. In addition, the soil and plants act as an insulating barrier and help reduce the need for heating and air-conditioning, which in turn reduces energy consumption.





  • White roof: Made of white gravel, this type of roof has properties that reflect back a significant percentage of solar radiation. By reducing heat absorption in the building, a white roof diminishes the heat island effect, which in turn cuts air-conditioning costs.



To date, the SAQ has installed:

  • 245,000 square feet of white roof covering – with a solar reflectance index (SRI) higher than 79 – on its Quebec City distribution centre, which corresponds to 55% of the roof’s total surface area;
  • 80,200 square feet of white roof covering – with an SRI higher than 79 – on its Montreal distribution centre, which corresponds to 8% of the roof’s total surface area;
  • 23,500 square feet of white roof covering – with an SRI higher than 79 – on its information technology centre, which corresponds to 94% of the roof’s total surface area;
  • 5,375 square feet of green (plant) roof covering on its Montreal distribution centre, which corresponds to 0.5% of the roof’s total surface area.
Solar wall

Located at the Montreal Distribution Centre in the city’s east end, this wall was installed in the fall of 2013. The system greatly improves ventilation in the laboratory, pulling in nearly 10,000 cubic feet of outside air per minute. This is a significant advantage for heating in winter when the outside temperature is below zero.

The imitative produces annual savings on the order of 8,000 cubic metres of natural gas or approximately $4,000. This is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 3.2 houses.

The solar wall has very few mechanical and electrical parts. Its life span is more than 30 years.

Print materials
  • The Circular is printed on Enviro100 paper (100% recycled post-consumer waste).
  • Internal newsletters are printed using vegetable ink on FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified Enviro100 paper.
Residual waste management in our buildings
  • Recovery of 40 metric tonnes of paper, 24 tonnes of plastic, glass and metal and 288 tonnes of paperboard in 2007 through a program aimed at employees at head office and the Montreal and Quebec City distribution centres.

    In addition, the employees of the Quebec City and Montreal distribution centres and at Pied-du-Courant have had access to composting counters for the recovery of putrescible waste. The recovered materials are delivered to BFIThis link will open in a new window. for transformation into compost.
  • Recovery of more than 10,000 square metres of acoustic tiles, 640 square metres of carpeting and 13 tonnes of metal during the renovation of the Montreal and Quebec City administrative centres.
Outdated computer equipment

In fiscal 2010–2011, the SAQ sent 460 computers, 73 monitors, eight printers, four fax machines and two scanners to Ordinateurs pour les écoles du Québec (OPEQ)This link will open in a new window..

Recovery of staff uniforms

When it issued new uniforms for its outlet staff, the SAQ recovered their old uniforms. All the returned clothing was sorted. Items from which the logo could not be removed were shredded for recovery, while those without a logo were recycled. More than 16,500 articles of clothing found a second life. This initiative was carried out in cooperation with the Centres de formation en entreprise et récupération (CFER)This link will open in a new window..

Responsible procurement
  • The SAQ recently joined the Espace de concertation sur les pratiques d'approvisionnement responsableThis link will open in a new window. (ECPAR) because it wants to strengthen its procurement practices for the products that it sells and the goods and services that it purchases.
  • The SAQ now integrates environmental criteria into its calls for tenders for the products that it purchases. The criteria relate to: the supplier’s sustainable development process; the certifications obtained for the product and container/packaging; the recycled content of the container/packaging; and the use of polystyrene.
  • In 2008, some 30 employees responsible for purchasing (goods, services, products to be sold) were given training on the SAQ’s responsible procurement policies.
  • Replacement of housekeeping products with certified Environmental Choice products for cleaning and maintaining the administrative centres, distribution centres and outlets.
Table pour la récupération hors foyer

Thanks to a major contribution from the Société des alcools du Québec to Table pour la récupération hors foyerThis link will open in a new window., several restaurants, bars and hotels are now recovering all their recyclable materials. The Table’s funding and consulting program is offered in every region of Quebec. Barely three years after the program was implemented, some 9,000 metric tonnes of recyclable materials (paper, paperboard, plastics, glass and metal) a year are being collected from more than 2,700 restaurants, bars and hotels.


The SAQ gives back

The SAQ’s profits are transferred to the Quebec government in the form of dividends. This means that almost all profits go to the shareholder, the Finance Department, which adds them to the province’s consolidated fund. Ultimately, the money is returned to Quebecers in the form of government services. In addition to the dividend, the SAQ pays to Ottawa and Quebec City the monies collected from non-retail sources: excise taxes, customs duties, sales taxes and specific taxes. In fiscal 2010–2011, the SAQ paid a total of $1.716 billion in government receipts (a $914.7 million dividend and $796.9 million in taxes and duties).

Because good work deserves fair pay

In fiscal 2010–2011, the SAQ paid more than $350 million in wages and benefits to its some 7,500 employees. These sums contribute to the economy and to Quebec’s collective wealth.

Research and development
  • The SAQ has invested more than $90,000 in a partnership with the Centre de recherche industrielle du QuébecThis link will open in a new window. (CRIQ) to discover new uses for mixed glass (mixed colours) from selective collection. Once transformed into precipitated silica, the glass can currently be used in paint, ink and tires, as a filler to strengthen silicone and rubber and even as an abrasive in toothpaste, as it doesn’t scratch tooth enamel.
  • The SAQ funds a major applied research project known as Chaire SAQ de valorisation du verre dans les matériaux de l'Université de SherbrookeThis link will open in a new window. at the Université de Sherbrooke. The Chair team is focused on developing uses for crushed and pulverized glass in several other promising fields: concrete, cement and pavers.
  • The SAQ took part in research to determine the properties of glass used in geothermal wells. The project was carried out in cooperation with the TricentrisThis link will open in a new window. sorting centre, Golder & associésThis link will open in a new window. and the École Polytechnique de MontréalThis link will open in a new window..
  • Now a member of FÉRIC, a non-profit organization, the SAQ takes part in research and development projects to obtain reliable information on various technologies that reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in road transport.
Buying local

With a large sales and distribution network and administrative facilities, the SAQ’s needs are many and varied. Each year, it purchases around $60 million worth of products and services through some 900 Quebec suppliers.

Everywhere for you

With some 400 outlets operating under seven banners (SAQ, Sélection, Express, Signature, Dépôt, Restauration, and 395 agency stores, the SAQ is present in every region of Quebec.

  • Along with the Mouvement Desjardins, National Bank, Sobeys and Transcontinental, the SAQ takes part in AQME'sThis link will open in a new window. Partenaires efficaces program, contributing $2,500 a year for two years in order to reduce energy consumption in its buildings by 30% by 2013.
  • In fiscal 2010–2011, the SAQ remitted $2.8 million to the Éduc'alcoolThis link will open in a new window. Fund.


Donations and sponsorships

Each year, the SAQ distributes $7.8 million in sponsorships to organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society, the Festival de Lanaudière and the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, to name but a few. It also makes product donations to support the fundraising activities of several non-profit organizations.

Involved employees

SAQ employees are involved in various activities jointly organized by the SAQ and The Chef TableThis link will open in a new window. to support Quebec-based food assistance organizations. As a leading promoter of the pleasures of the table, the SAQ believes that, before turning to the subject of gastronomy, Quebecers are entitled to have enough to eat.


In 2011, some 150 employees accompanied by their families and friends answered the call, donating time and energy to prepare more than 4,000 jars of cookie mix for distribution to needy families. Besides helping to fill a shortfall in provisions at local food banks, the initiative provided an opportunity to gather and share the joys of cooking together.

Serving our customers

In 2007, no fewer than 640 outlet employees successfully completed a customer service training program developed by the Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ)This link will open in a new window..

Making room for women

In 2011, women formed 48% of the SAQ’s overall workforce, compared with 33% in 1999. At the senior management level, the figure is 37%, while 38% of outlet managers are women.

Helping consumers make informed choices
  • The new outlet concept promotes customer information and interactivity through educational signage.
  • The many wine, beer and spirits expos held each year promote wine culture. The profits from each of these events are donated to local non-profit organizations.
18 years and over, by law

The SAQ’s position is clear: we refuse to sell
alcohol to minors or anyone who is obviously inebriated or to anyone who attempts to purchase alcohol on their behalf. SAQ outlet employees have the right and duty to ask for proof of age and assess our customers’ state of sobriety and intentions, and they can refuse to sell alcohol if they deem it necessary to comply with our sales ethic. Proof of age is also required for deliveries from

Social contributions

As of 2010, the SAQ had donated more than $250,000 to the Fonds pour la biodiversité et les habitats du QuébecThis link opens in a new window, money which it collected through the sale of reusable bags.

In the months leading up to the elimination of single-use bags on January 1, 2009, customers who requested them were charged a fee. The money collected was donated to the following two organizations:

  • The Centre for Sustainable Development: Led by Équiterre, nine social and environmental organizations recently created the Centre for Sustainable DevelopmentThis link will open in a new window., a non-profit organization whose mission is to build and operate a demonstration certified green building designed to inspire both the general public and real estate decision-makers.

    The Centre for Sustainable Development is conceived as a place for reflection, education, innovation and the meeting of minds on sustainable development. Although located in Montreal, its influence is felt across Quebec. It contains conference rooms, training rooms, a green building centre, a sustainable development kiosk offering information on Quebec and Montreal programs and a public meeting place and showcase for the social economy.
  • The Regroupement national des conseils régionaux de l’environnement du Québec (RNCREQ): At a time when sustainable development is increasingly multi-faceted, the RNCREQThis link will open in a new window. has come up with an original and educational way to promote it. Through a play titled Acteurs de changement (agents of change), the organization intends to mobilize, raise awareness and support elected officials, socio-economic leaders and citizens in implementing their sustainable development strategies. With the support of several partners, the play will tour Quebec over the next two years and be presented to local decision-makers and the general public alike.


To date, the SAQ has donated $380,000 to Food Banks of QuebecThis link will open in a new window. with which it developed a campaign to encourage the public to give generously. By supporting this organization, the SAQ has reaffirmed its commitment to the food assistance sector and joined the fight against poverty.

Protecting our cultural heritage
  • The SAQ ‘s head office is an historic building that once housed Montreal’s prison. La Maison du Gouverneur was originally the warden’s residence and has been restored with the utmost respect for the 1895 original plans.
  • Built under the SAQ’s head office, the Galerie du Gouverneur is accessible via the Couloir des millésimes (the “vintage passageway”) which recounts 200 years of wine history and leads to the SAQ‘s new storage cellar. The cellar contains a 50,000-bottle collection that is unique in the world.
  • The Prison-des-PatriotesThis link will open in a new window. is an exhibition centre that presents the events of 1837–1838 and describes the conditions of confinement as well as the building’s various architectural features. The exhibition is permanent and admission is free.