The Bottle Bill: Recycling Deposit Scheme

The Bottle Bill is part of Canada’s recycling legislation, whereby all non-refillable containers for beer and carbonated soft drinks have a deposit included in the price that consumers pay. When consumers return their empty bottles and cans to retailers they are able to claim their deposit back, and the containers are then destined for recycling plants. Although this recycling incentive (or some variation of it) is present throughout all provinces and territories in Canada, it isn’t called the ‘Bottle Bill’ everywhere. It is through Légis Québec’s “Act respecting the sale and distribution of beer and soft drinks in non-returnable containers” that this scheme exists, with the aim of encouraging consumers to be more conscious of the waste they produce, and of ways in which they can decrease this through recycling. The system is run by Recyc-Québec, a crown corporation.

When buying bottles or cans of beer or soft drinks, you will pay a deposit, or une consigne; for containers with a volume less than 450ml you will pay a 5¢  deposit, and for containers with volumes greater than 450ml the deposit is 20¢. As it currently stands, there is no deposit-return scheme on containers such as wine bottles, although there has been mention of reforming and modernizing the system to include other types of containers made from different materials, thereby increasing recycling levels in the province. Québec’s Environment Minister, David Heurtel, announced in June 2017 that a committee would be created in order to spearhead reforms, made up of key stakeholders including: container manufacturers; the beverage filling industry; distributors and retailers; and the recycling industry. This is an ongoing initiative, and no changes to the system have been made as of yet*.

In addition to the Bottle Bill, Québec also has complementary recycling programs such as curbside recycling, which approximately 70% of the population has access to. Recyc-Québec is also driving an initiative that would see industry funding curbside collection, for materials currently not include in the deposit-return scheme.

Although there are improvements to be made, Québec as a province is taking some great steps in order to become a greener, more environmentally-friendly place.

*Spring 2018

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