Glass: a genuine concern

What happens to the bottles we sell matters to us today, as it has for more than 30 years. Actually, the SAQ was one of the companies that brought selective collection to Quebec in 1991. And in the years since, we’ve increased our initiatives and partnerships and invested more than $150 million in collection and recycling.

While selective collection long seemed the most ecological, affordable and straightforward solution for recovering glass, we now agree that, despite all the efforts made and a recovery rate in excess of 85%, the results leave something to be desired. That is why we are taking action to change things.

The SAQ's 5 main priorities

Lightweight and alternative containers

Because reduction at source is preferable to even the best recycling method, we require our producers to bottle all under-$16 regular wines sold at the SAQ in lightweight glass bottles (average reduction of 90 g over a 510 g traditional bottle, which also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions).

We are continuing our efforts to switch other categories to lightweight glass. Today, the SAQ is undertaking to extend the policy to all regular wines retailing for $20 and under, which make up 88% of its wine sales.

Reuse: modernizing the bulk wine experience

Together with its partners, we want to reinvent the bulk sales concept in Quebec. We will use our customer experience expertise to develop an offer of quality bulk wines sold in attractive settings that will surprise and seduce customers. This initiative, which is in line with current food industry trends, will encourage bottle reuse.

a person dropping a bottle of wine for deposita person dropping a bottle of wine for deposit


We are currently working with all industry partners to swiftly develop and implement a deposit-return system for SAQ bottles and other glass containers. We aim to build one or more solutions that work well for the environment, consumers, merchants and restaurant/bar owners and that meet our expectations and those of Quebecers when it comes to keeping our containers out of landfill.

bench made of recycled glass powderbench made of recycled glass powder

Remelting green-coloured glass

We are working with industry stakeholders to come up with scenarios for reusing and selling recycled glass containers, ideally in Quebec.

Remelting green-coloured glass

We are working with industry stakeholders to come up with scenarios for reusing and selling recycled glass containers, ideally in Quebec.

Glass powder and its prospects

We are intensifying our efforts to promote awareness of glass powder and increase its use. Why, some might wonder, when we already intend to establish an industry to reuse our bottles.

Because we sell some 200 million bottles annually that come from the four corners of the globe. Local bottlers cannot use all of them.

Because if a material cannot be recycled, finding a second use for it remains an ecological way of dealing with it. Also, using glass powder in concrete helps:

  • improve concrete performance (durability, impermeability and strength);
  • reduce the greenhouse gasses emissions resulting from the cement manufacturing process;
  • reduce the environmental impact of construction projects.
Concrete made of recycled glass in front of Marché Jean-Talon storeConcrete made of recycled glass in front of Marché Jean-Talon store

The pavement in front of the Jean-Talon Market SAQ is made of recycled glass.

Ground glass in concrete: a made-in-Quebec solution

The researchers of the Chaire SAQ de valorisation du verre dans les matériaux de l’Université de Sherbrooke have discovered how to use ground or pulverized glass in concrete and paving stones. Funded by the SAQ since 2004, the research has resulted in:

  • the issuing of a patent for the discovery;
  • recognition of the effectiveness of glass powder as a replacement for cement in concrete in Canada by the CSA-A3000 Cementitious Materials Compendium standard.

Millions of glass containers have thus found a second life as a cement replacement in municipal sidewalks, street furniture and pavers.

Did you know that the SAQ acts as a test bed for all these innovations? For example, we have used the equivalent of nearly 3 million wine bottles in the form of recycled glass in a hundred or so projects (flooring, furniture, mulch, etc.).

Other uses

Recycled glass for Quebec roads and highways (French only)

Vignes en ville - urban agriculture project



The first SAQ environmental policy promoting the introduction of selective collection and use of recycled materials.



Funding for the introduction of selective collection in Quebec, with an annual contribution every year since.



Creation of the Chaire SAQ de valorisation du verre dans les matériaux at the Université de Sherbrooke to find ways for glass to replace cement in concrete, a funding commitment renewed four times to date.



Participation in the Table de récupération hors foyer.


Investment with Recyc-Québec in the Centre de recherche industrielle du Québec (CRIQ) to fund an initial study on making precipitated silica from post-consumer glass.



Publication of the first SAQ sustainable development plan, including social and economic dimensions and coinciding with the coming into effect of the Sustainable Development Act.



Funding, in collaboration with Éco Entreprises Québec and the Ville de Montréal, of the ÉTS (École de technology supérieur) project to increase demand for post-consumer glass by incorporating it into pavement structures and asphalt.



Participation in the Innovative Glass Works plan to upgrade Quebec sorting centres and support market development with the end goal of recycling 100% of recovered glass.

Research and development to add value to glass

What happens to glass bottles is a major concern for the SAQ. That is why we have developed initiatives focused on all the stages in the life cycle of the bottles we sell.

Our initiatives include :

  • Encouraging our suppliers to favour the use of lightweight glass bottles and alternative containers.
  • Meeting our legal obligations by helping to cover the cost of municipal selective collection services.
  • Partnering with Éco Entreprises Québec’s Innovative Glass Works plan, whose goal is to find a concrete solution for 100% of the glass (food containers, wine bottles, etc.) that Quebecers place in their recycling bins.

And that’s not all !

  • As we believe in Quebec engineering and developing the next generation, we have formed partnerships with researchers to find new, local, value-added uses for recovered glass.
  • We are mobilizing players in the field to promote the circular economy and improve the growth potential of the recovered glass industry.
  • We provide a testing ground for developments in the field. For example, we have used the equivalent of nearly three million wine bottles in the form of recycled glass in a hundred different projects (flooring, furniture, mulch, etc.).

Use of glass in concrete and paving stones

Since 2004, the SAQ has helped fund the Université de Sherbrooke’s Chaire de valorisation du verre dans les matériaux de l’Université de Sherbrooke. The Chair’s researchers have developed the use of ground or pulverized glass in concerte and paving stones. A patent has even been applied for.

The SAQ also supports the Chair in carrying out its mandate to transfer knowledge to the industry in Quebec and around the globe. As a result, millions of glass containers have found a second life replacing concrete in city sidewalks, urban furniture and paving stones.

Incorporating glass into concrete helps to :

  • improve the concrete’s performance (durability, water-resistance, strength);
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by cement manufacturing;
  • reduce the environmental impact of our construction projects.

Recycled glass in Quebec roads and highways

In 2005, the SAQ signed an agreement with the École de technologie supérieure (ETS), the City of Montreal, Éco Entreprises Québec and RECYC-QUÉBEC to support research into the use of recycled glass on Quebec roads and highways (asphalt).

An initial asphalting test incorporating glass was carried out in 2016 for the parking lot of an SAQ administrative building. A second test to evaluate the performance of crushed glass as an asphalt underlay, replacing the usual gravel, was also done. In all, some 120 tons of glass, the equiavlent of 240,000 wine bottles, found a new life through these two pilot projects.

Glass mulch

Recycled glass mulch is made from finely ground glass containers. As it is manufactured mainly from glass of various colours (clear, green, brown) transformed into a kind of coarse sand, it has a pale green colour not unlike that of pistachios. It is neither toxic nor cutting. Recycled glass mulch is the product of a collaboration with Albert Mondor, a well-known horticulturalist and garden designer. Check the instruction manual to find out where to buy it and which plants to use it with.

Glass mulch in landscaping (french only)

Specifications for using glass mulch in landscaping (french only)