Frequently Asked Questions
- What kind of beverage containers are refundable?
- How does the Beverage Container Program work?
- How will the Beverage Container Program pay for itself?
- Who is responsible for the Beverage Container Program?
- How does the Beverage Container Program affect distributors and retailers?
- How will the Beverage Container Program be enforced?
- What is the Beverage Container Advisory Committee?
- What is a processing centre?
- What is a depot?
- How will people get beverage containers to the depots?
- Who can operate community depots?
- Where do the beverage containers go when they leave the community?
- Are the collected beverage containers actually being recycled and reused?
- What are recycled beverage containers used for?
- Isn’t transporting the beverage containers south expensive?
- How will the Beverage Container Program affect my food budget?
- What about people on fixed incomes?
- What are the refundable deposits and handling fees?
- What arrangements have been made for communities that do not have depots?
- When was the deposit on milk containers implemented?
- What is the deposit amount on milk containers?
- What is the non-refundable handling fee on milk containers?
- What sizes and types of milk and/or cream containers are included in the deposit program?
- What, if anything, is not included in this program?
- Can I redeem milk containers I purchased outside the NWT?
- Do I need to keep the label on the milk containers?
- Can I squash the milk containers so they take up less space before I take them to a bottle depot?
- Do I have to wash the milk containers before I take them to the bottle depot?
- Putting a deposit and handling fee on milk increases my cost. Will it have a negative impact on low income families who rely on milk as a nutritious staple?
- Where can people get more information on the program?
Ready-to-serve beverage containers such as glass, plastics, aluminum, bi-metal, and mixed materials such as juice boxes. This includes milk and liquid milk products, juice, pop, water, beer, wine, liquor and other alcoholic beverages.
- A refundable deposit and a non-refundable handling fee is added to the cost of ready-to-serve drinks.
- The consumer can get their refundable deposit back by taking the beverage container to the nearest depot.
- The depot then ships the beverage containers to a designated regional processing centre.
- The processing centre processes the beverage containers and sells them to recycling markets.
- Money raised through the program goes into an Environment Fund set up under the Waste Reduction and Recovery Act. This fund is used to cover program expenses and improve waste reduction and recovery programs.
- A fully refundable deposit is applied to each beverage container sold in the NWT. The refundable deposit is returned to the consumer when the beverage container is returned to a community depot.
- A non-refundable handling fee is also applied to each beverage container. The fee varies according to the size and type of beverage container. These fees are based on the estimated costs to collect, process and transport beverage containers and to administer the program.
- Beverage container deposits not claimed for refund are put in the Environment Fund and will be used to assist in covering expenses and improvements to the program.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) administers the program by:
- enforcing the Act and the Regulations;
- coordinating and supporting local depots and regional processing centers;
- coordinating public information;
- improving the program; and,
- undertaking audits or checks on distributors, importers, stores, depots and processing centres.
- Under the program, businesses importing and distributing beverage containers in the NWT must register with ENR and make regular reports and payments. This applies to retailers that import their own beverage containers for sale in the NWT.
- For details on the roles and responsibilities of distributors, manufacturers, and retailers, click here.
- People are encouraged, but not required, to return beverage containers to a depot.
- The success of the program depends on businesses importing beverages into the NWT paying the deposits and the required fees into the Environment Fund. This money pays for the program. Enforcement is important to ensure that everyone is playing by the same rules and no distributor or retailer has an unfair advantage over another business.
- Random audits will be conducted to ensure financial accountability. Penalties will be appropriate to the offence. Penalties could include fines and jail. Courts could also order other penalties. Officers appointed under the Waste Reduction and Recovery Act will be responsible for making sure the regulations are followed.
- The Waste Reduction and Recovery Act enables the Minister of ENR to establish an advisory committee to provide advice and assistance relating to recycling programs established under the Act.
- The Advisory Committee was established in March 2004. Membership currently consists of:
- beverage distributors;
- environmental organizations;
- transportation Industry; and
- A processing centre is a licenced place that takes empty beverage containers from assigned depots in their region.
- Processing centres process the containers and send them to reuse and recycling markets.
- Processing centres have been established in Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik.
- A depot is a licenced place in a community that receives empty beverage containers from consumers and pays the consumers the refundable deposit.
- Each depot sends their containers to an assigned regional processing centre.
- The program uses drop-off depots. Many areas of Canada, such as Alberta and the Yukon, rely on a similar return-to-depot deposit/refund system. This system balances cost and convenience.
- Depot operators could be municipal governments, schools, community groups, stores, other agencies or local businesses.
- Before a depot can begin to operate, ENR will issue the depot a licence. These licences contain terms and conditions that require depots to maintain acceptable operating standards, such as minimum hours of operation. These standards vary depending on the size of the community.
- The operation of community depots has created full and part-time jobs. The number of jobs created varies from community to community.
- Depots sort and store beverage containers until they can be shipped.
- Local depots send beverage containers to regional processing centres in Inuvik, Yellowknife, and Hay River.
- The processing center pays each depot a handling fee to cover operating costs and money to cover the refunds provided.
- The processing centres also receive a handling fee to cover their operating costs.
- Processing centres then process the beverage containers and ship them to southern markets for reuse or recycling.
- Aluminum and plastic containers are crushed (or densified) by processing centres and transported to recycling markets in Alberta and the US. Aluminum and plastic containers make up about 51% and 19% of the containers collected, respectively.
- An Agreement has been negotiated with Brewers Distributing Ltd. in Edmonton that ensures all ‘domestic’ refillable beer and cooler glass bottles are returned to breweries for reuse. These bottles are cleaned and refilled an average of 15 times. Refillable glass bottles make up about 14% of the containers collected.
- Multi-material containers such as gable tops, juice boxes and drink pouches are baled and shipped south, then onto the US along with Alberta’s multi-material containers. These containers make up about 5% of the containers collected.
- Non-refillable glass gets crushed and turned into “cullet”, some of which is used as fill in construction sites, the remainder goes to Alberta to be processed into fiberglass. These make up 11% of the containers collected.
- When aluminum cans are recycled, they become new aluminum cans and other products. It takes about 95% less energy to recycle aluminum cans then it does to mine aluminum and make new cans.
- Plastic containers are recycled into products such as new plastic containers, fleece clothing and high-grade carpet.
- Recycled bi-metal cans are made into car parts, metal bars and chicken wire.
- Multi-material containers such as juice boxes and gable top containers must go through a process called hydrapulping. This process separates the different components of the containers. Some products made from these containers include cardboard, napkins, and plastic wood.
Transportation is organized to be as efficient, cheap and environmentally friendly as possible. Depending upon the community and time of year, beverage containers are being transported by either road, winter road or barge.
- The following factors are considered when organizing transportation:
- Backhauls. Transport that brings products to communities could take beverage containers out.
- Full loads are cheaper than half loads.
- One kind of material for each truckload and one market stop is cheaper than multiple materials and more than one stop.
- Materials should be packaged so they are easy to load and unload.
- For those residents who return the container to a depot for the refund, the cost is the non-refundable handling fees charged to each beverage container.
- Money generated under the Program goes into the Environment Fund, not into general government revenues.
- Income Support food rates are reviewed each year and changed according to changes in the cost of food. Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits also go up regularly as the cost of living increases.
The non-refundable handling fees, which makes up approximately 43% of the total surcharge, are used to operate the program. This includes paying depots and processing centres, paying for the transportation of containers from depots to processing centres and for refillable glass containers to breweries, storage of containers in some depots, advertising, general operations and maintenance of the program, and improvements to the program. The approximate breakdown of the non-refundable handling fees are:
- 25% - depots and processing centres
- 6% - transportation and storage
- 6% - administration (advertising, promotion, equipment supplies and maintenance, insurance, minor equipment purchase, travel and training, wages and benefits)
- 4% - contracts (satellite depots, audits, misc. contracts)
- 2% - grants and contribution – depot grants and contributions for operations and upgrades)
- The Government of the Northwest Territories has committed to ensuring that temporary or “satellite” depots are operated in those remaining communities without a local depot operator. This ensures that all residents are able to return empty beverage containers and obtain their refundable deposit in their own community.
- The Beverage Container Program is based upon a free-market system where private industry, development corporations and other community groups operate regional processing centres and local depots. This free-market model will be maintained.
NEW – Frequently Asked Questions for Milk
- The deposit on milk containers comes into effect on February 15, 2010. A refundable deposit and non-refundable handling fee is paid by consumers on purchases of milk and liquid milk products, including milk and cream substitutes in ready-to-serve containers. These containers can be returned to a beverage container collection depot for a refund of the deposit.
- The deposit on milk containers is 10¢ for containers 1 litre and under and 25¢ for milk containers over a litre.
- The non-refundable handling fee is 5¢ on for containers 1 litre and under and 10¢ for milk containers over a litre.
- Ready-to-serve containers of milk and liquid milk products including milk and cream substitutes, buttermilk, condensed/evaporated milk, eggnog, flavoured milk, liquid meal replacements containing milk, milk shake beverages, nut milk, rice milk, soy milk and yogurt beverages in containers made of plastic, glass, metal, and polycoat materials (polycoats include gable tops, tetra paks/bricks etc).
- Containers for infant formula
- Containers for milk and liquid milk products smaller than 30 ml
- Powder milk
- Containers sold empty
- Open containers filled with a drink when sold
- No, only containers that have been purchased in the NWT and charged a deposit and handling fee can be refunded at depots.
- Yes, you do need to keep the label on milk containers, so that it can be reasonably identified as a milk container. If you remove the label you may not be eligible for a refund when you take the milk container to the depot.
- Yes, please squash the milk jugs and cartons so they take up less space - this will not affect your ability to obtain a refund at the depot.
- YES! You should wash or at least rinse the milk jugs and cartons, before taking them to the bottle depot. Any milk containers with a strong odour, or containing residual materials, will be rejected by the depot operator for public health and sanitation reasons. You will not receive a refund for contaminated containers.
Putting a deposit and handling fee on milk increases my cost. Will it have a negative impact on low income families who rely on milk as a nutritious staple?
- While the cost of milk has increased at the till, consumers will have the choice to return their empty containers to receive a refund of their deposit by returning the empty containers to a community beverage container collection depot.
If you want more information, or have comments about the Waste Reduction and Recovery Act, the Beverage Container Regulations or the Beverage Container Program, contact:
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Government of the Northwest Territories
P.O. Box 1320
Yellowknife NT X1A 2L9
Phone: (867) 873-7654 Fax: (867) 873-0221