Beverage Containers

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The Beverage Container Program (BCP) is the first program created under the Waste Reduction and Recovery Act.  It was implemented on November 1, 2005 to help address over 30 million containers that end up in NWT landfills or as litter along our streets and highways each year.

The amended Beverage Container Regulations (Regulations) came into effect February 1, 2016. Amendments to the Regulations include a net increase to container handling fees which are intended to ensure the financial sustainability of depots and the program overall. The new Regulations also simplify container categories, streamline administrative processes, and create additional tools to encourage compliance.

Under the Regulations, the program includes all ready-to-serve beverage containers such as water, juice, milk and liquid milk products, soft drinks, energy drinks, and alcohol but does not include:

  • infant formula;
  • milk and liquid milk products in containers smaller than 30 mL;
  • containers sold empty; and,
  • open containers filled with a drink when sold.

The BCP has a network of community depots that report to three regional processing centres which are located in Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik.  The depots are operated by businesses, schools, community governments, and individuals.

How the Beverage Container Program Works


Import, manufacture, or sell beverage containers in the NWT.  They collect the surcharges on each beverage container distributed or sold and remit it to the Environment Fund.

Retail Stores:

Pay the surcharges to the distributor and collect the surcharges from consumers for each beverage container they distribute/sell.


Pay a surcharge when they buy a beverage, and get the refundable deposit back when they return the container to a NWT depot.


Pay the consumer the refundable deposit for each container they receive.  Depots collect, sort, store, and send the beverage containers to a processing centre along with a report showing the total value of refundable deposits and handling fees they are owed. 

Regional Processing Centres:

Receive beverage containers from depots.  They pay the refundable deposits and handling fees to their depots.  They receive the money they have paid the depots plus their handling fees when they report on the number of containers collected and the resulting deposits and handling fees to ENR.  They process and ship the containers south for reuse or recycling.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources:

Administers the program and the Environment Fund.  ENR uses money from the Environment Fund to pay the refundable deposits and handling fees to processing centres.  ENR also pays to transport beverage containers from depots to processing centres and Industry Standard Bottles (ISBs) from processing centres to breweries.

Reuse/Recycling Markets:

Accepts containers from processing centres and reuse or recycle the containers into other products.