Here is a list of some barriers and problems faced by the valoristes, as well as society as a whole in the current refund system in Quebec.
Poverty & Homelessness
Decreased opportunities for “odd jobs” permitting to go look for extra income to often avoid falling into homelessness. The informal collection of refundable containers in exchange for cash is one of the only legal options left as “odd jobs”.
Difficult working conditions for the valoristes: discrimination and public health
Discrimination / “penalty for being poor”: the average valoriste has more difficulty to recover the full amount of refundables in comparison with the “traditional” customer because of certain barriers established by retailers: refusal to serve the valoriste, maximun quantity or amount refunded, obligation to consume the money refunded, refusal to count, batch purchase, etc.
Health problems which end up being charged to the collectivity: arthritis, osteoarthritis, cuts … are unfortunately becoming more common among valoristes. This is related to the difficult working conditions: scavenging often without gloves, long distances to find places of return refundables, heavy loads associated with glass containers, etc.
Environmental and economic issues:
Urban pollution generated in particular by the (over) consumption mainly of “nomadic” beverage containers.
Lack of sufficient and adequate recycling infrastructure on the public domain. Many containers thrown on the streets generating costs for municipalities and taxpayers.
Several businesses located in downtown Montreal do not have an integrated collection service for recycling of glass, plastic and metal (VPM), including returnable containers .
Some systems are ineffective because they do not take into account the reality of valoristes.
Residential recycling curbside collection rate in Montreal is still very low: 24.7% (2010)
Societal and community issues:
Social exclusion of people in marginal situations that are often valoristes
Lack of recognition by the actors: despite a positive contribution in terms of cleanliness of the city and efficiency of the refund system, people do not see or do not want to see the valoristes.
Stigmatization: valoristes are often directly associated with “homelessness” when their activity precisely allows most of them to avoid losing their roof.
Lack of voice and input in discussions related to the future of the recycling refund system: Exclusion from decisions that directly affect them.
A large number of actors is concerned with these issues:
Municipal actors who are aware of this problem through their responsibility for cleaning the public domain.
Distributors and retailers who face the logistical challenges of the return of refundables.
Social and public health agencies who help people in marginal situations.
Residents, businesses and downtown institutions who are sensitive to these issues that directly affect them in their daily interactions in their environment.