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B.C. binners get a raise as bottle deposit doubles

October 24, 2019

The refundable deposit on non-alcoholic beverage containers up to a litre in volume, that B.C. consumers pay at the cash register will double from five cents to tens cents on November 1, according to a CBC News report.

This one, long-overdue change in British Columbia’s 20-year-bottle deposit rates could increase the value of a binner’s average bottle haul by as much as third.
Reportedly, it is the only change being made to the antiquated single-use container deposit value structure maintained by Encorp Pacific—the industry-run, non-profit group that manages the bottle deposit system in British Columbia for single-use, non-alcoholic beverage containers, as well as their collection and recycling through a province-wide network of Return-It recycling centres.

Which is to say that the refundable deposit rate for any non-alcoholic beverage container over a litre in volume will continue to be 20 cents.

Effectively the single rate change rationalizes the refundable deposit value structure of both non-alchoholic and alcoholic single use beverage containers at 10 cents up to a litre and 20 cent over a litre.

In addition to the higher return on effort and extra cash it will put in the pockets of hard-working subsistence binners—homeless, or “street-embedded individuals—who absolutely rely on the money from bottle deposits, I predict that this one deposit value increase will, in turn, drive an increase in the following activities:

  • Retention-and-return of containers by the original consumers.
  • Binning as a legitimate second job.
  • Binning by homeowners in vehicles—the so-called “car binners” I warmly despise.

And arguably, making non-alchoholic plastic and aluminum containers more valuable will have the inevitable effect of making glass wine bottles that much less desirable to binners.

That much less reason to ever bin a glass wine bottle

Detail of one of my binning loads from 2016—not a wine bottle to be seen!

An unintended consequence of the increased value of non-alcoholic beverage containers will almost certainly be a further reduction in the collection—by the majority of binners—of glass wine bottles up to a litre in volume.
Unless one is collecting containers with a car, or a pickup truck, carrying heavy glass wine bottles becomes an insuperable burden, weight and volume-wise, long before the bottles can add up to a valuable haul—especially for binners collecting on foot or on a bicycle.

Not only are they a fraction of the weight of glass wine bottles but aluminum pop cans and plastic water and juice containers canunlike wine bottlesbe flattened to take up very little volume.

Even when wine bottles up to a litre were twice the value of similar volume non-alcoholic containers, a non-motorized binnerlimited by what they could physically carry—was nuts to even touch a wine bottle (or terribly desperate).

Now that the non-alcoholic containers are the same value…geez Louise! Who will want to waste valuable carrying capacity on the dead weight of wine bottlesbesides loathsome car binners, I mean?

There really needs to be more rejuvenation and expansion of the deposit system for single-use containers.

Certainly the refundable deposit rate should be raised for glass wine bottles, if not also glass beer bottles.

I don’t know, offhand, whether this is the responsibility of Encorp Pacific, or Brewers Distributor Ltd. (BDL)—the non-profit extended producer responsibility (EPR) group, made up of the breweries Labatt and Molson—which oversees the deposit/return system for beer.

However, I can think of several other, long overdue improvements that should be the responsibility of Encorp Pacific—the ERP made up of bottlers and retailers that make and sell non-alcoholic beverages—that was created by provincial legislation decades ago:

Extend refundable deposits to all Tetra containers (Brik and gable top) for non-dairy “milks”, like soy, almond and oat (as was done years ago in Alberta by the Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation (ABCRC)).

And bring back the returnable deposit for single-use containers of coffee beverages (both bi-metal and aluminum), such as the popular Starbucks Doubleshot esspresso beverages.

Make single-use paper coffee cup garbage disappear

Finally, we need a province-wide deposit system to drive the return and recycling of single-use, poly-lined paper cups—ideally both the hot and cold cup variety.

This one’s really a no-brainer. The provincial government simply needs to legislate the creation of another (the 18th, or so) non-profit extended producer responsibility (EPR) group—this one made up of the main producers of single-use cup waste, including McDonald’s., Starbucks and Tim Hortons.

This EPR group would have the same objective as Encorp Pacific and BDL: to use a deposit scheme to rid the province of a category of single-use pollution, namely takeaway paper cups.

It cannot be stated enough that poly-lined paper coffee cups have been and are recyclable through the province-wide blue box system since 2014.

According to what RecycleBC has told me, the single-use paper coffee cups that make it into the blue box system are recycled in South Korea into things like toilet paper.

The problem is that the majority of single use paper cup never get near the provincial recycling system. They are tossed, willy-nilly, by the millions every week into garbage that goes straight into the landfills.

Everyone knows that binners motivated by a deposit system would ferret out over 90 percent of these paper cups for proper recycling, wherever they may be hiding.

If the waste stream of single-use paper cups really is such a terrible problem then they need to be banned province-wide, once-and-for-all.

Either that, or they need to be made the subject of a province-wide deposit and return system that is run by the polluters and self-financed using unredeemed deposits, as is the case with the Encorp Pacific and BDL deposit systems. Click the images to enlarge them

From → Binning

One Comment
  1. Kerry Ericksson permalink

    I collect bottles if I see a bag put out in the alley while riding my bike and look forward to the higher refunds.I make about $50 a month that I put into a special savings account.I am a senior on a fixed income so this helps a bit.The bottles I hate the most are heavy glass water bottles that I usually leave behind.


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