“It’s Not a Level Playing Field”: British Columbia Recycling Center Ends Pilot Program for Beer Containers

Date: 3 Feb 2021 | posted in: waste - recycling, Waste to Wealth | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

According to a recent article in a Canadian publication called Prince Georges Matters, the Return-It Recycling Centre in British Columbia is being forced to end its pilot program for beer containers.

Saying ‘It’s not a level playing field,’ the Prince Georges Return-It Centre has asked the Minister of the Environment to intervene and stop unfair business practices that threaten container return enterprises.

See full article here

In the article, Ken Ziemer the company manager states, “B.C. is the only western Canada [province] where they can pick and choose where they want to give a contract because of that it is not a level playing field for everyone.” Because the producers are able to select where they want to give a contract, the Return-It Centre will suspend its Beer Pilot Program and no longer offer the cash incentives that were part of the pilot program.

This means that British Columbia is the only jurisdiction in western Canada where customers are asked to sort their aluminum containers (non-alcohol and alcohol) and are not able to receive a full refund at all locations.

As a result, the Return-It Centre claims it and over 90 other depots across B.C. are not being paid to manage the containers and therefore can’t provide a full refund. “So from our end of things if we paid 10 cents per can we would actually lose money taking beer,” Ziemer told Prince Georges Matters. “For those who want to get the full price on everything that they recycle it causes them to have to search around for different places to go to recycle.” PG Recycle and Return-It says it wants to continue the Beer Pilot Program and has raised this issue with the British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

A public appeal to its customers for support from the Return-It Centre states:

“Dear Valued Customer, Our much enjoyed the Beer Pilot program has ended, and we are rolling back the refund price of beer bottles and beer cans to 5 cents per unit or 90 cents for a dozen starting on January 4th.” 

Ziemer says he doesn’t see anything changing until the government steps in. “We have reached out many times over the years but the key is having the general public reach out….Because that is going to create the drive for them to say ‘hey it is the general public that wants it to happen.’”

For more background on the impact of the Extended Producer Responsibility on container deposits in British Columbia, go here, and here


Photo credit: Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

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Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman, Ph.D, directs the Waste to Wealth Initiative. He specializes in helping cities and businesses recover increasing amounts of materials from the waste stream and add value to the local economy through new processing and manufacturing facilities. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.