During our January 18 webinar, as part of our Les Rendez-vous ED series, Marie-Hélène Lagacé, Vice-President, Public Affairs, Communication and Social Responsibility, highlighted five initiatives at SAQ that are helping fulfil its social obligations, all while remaining focused on its core business of selling a wide selection of alcoholic beverages throughout Quebec.
1. See to it that bottles find a second life
For more than 15 years, the SAQ Chair for the Valorization of Glass in Materials at the Université de Sherbrooke has been encouraging a variety of efforts to recycle the bottles sold through its stores.
One of the results is that the equivalent of 70,000 wine bottles found a new life as glass powder, used in the construction of the two Darwin Bridges in Montreal in 2020 and 2021. In all, this helped save 40,000 kilograms of cement.
2. Reinvent the deposit-return system
A sweeping deposit-return modernization initiative is also keeping SAQ busy these days. A pilot project was launched at the SAQ Dépôt in Terrebonne, where several methods of glass recovery have been put to the test. “We’re learning a whole lot, and we want to make sure we use this knowledge to develop the best possible system,” said Marie-Hélène.
3. Shift to lightweight glass
SAQ encourages suppliers to opt for bottles made of lightweight glass. As it currently stands, 96% of wines retailing for $16 or less come in these types of bottles. “Less glass sold means less glass to recycle. And because the bottles aren’t as heavy, domestic and international shipping generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions,” she added.
4. Support food banks
SAQ stores regularly raise funds for Food Banks of Quebec. Over the past 12 years, some $13.8 million has been directed toward the organization as a result of these efforts. Plus, a portion of the vegetables grown in the SAQ garden near the Montreal distribution centre are donated to food assistance organizations in the city’s Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood.
5. Actively seek out new ways to make a difference
The SAQ is determined to expand its corporate social responsibility activities in the years to come, as is apparent in the thought process for its 2024–2026 strategic plan. Marie-Hélène explained that the SAQ management committee’s discussions were being guided by some very thought-provoking questions. Questions like, “With climate change ramping up and the needs in our society becoming more and more pressing, how can we make our social mission even more inspiring?”
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