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5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Beverage Container Recycling

Simple reminders to help make your recycling count—for you and the environment.

Created for  Return-It LOGO

When it comes to recycling beverage containers, British Columbians are nailing it. In 2021 alone, we recycled over 1 billion beverage containers. In fact, over the past 27 years more than 23 billion beverage containers were not only diverted from landfills, but were turned into useful new materials and products through the province’s Return-It recycling program.

Still, even though we’re diverting billions of beverage containers into the recycling system, we can all use reminders to ensure we’re getting it right when we recycle beverage containers. Here are five tips to get the most out of the Return-It program and make your recycling efforts count.

1. Know what’s recyclable

All ready-to-drink beverage containers registered in the Return-It System can be brought to your local Return-It location to be recycled. Whether it’s made of aluminum, plastic or glass, all are accepted. Paper-based drink boxes such as for milk, juice or plant-based milk alternatives, whether single servings or large with gable tops, are welcome. Don’t forget that drink pouches, bag-in-a-box containers and even plastic polystyrene cups with foil lids can also be returned for a deposit refund.

2. Prepare containers for recycling:

  • Rinse out your containers to avoid stickiness, mold and unpleasant odours. 
  • Don’t flatten them or remove any labelling—Return-It needs it to be able to identify the containers to confirm they are part of the deposit system. 
  • Leave tabs on aluminum cans.
  • Keep caps on any containers that come with them. 
  • Remember to push straws into drink boxes or pouches.

3. Use Return-It instead of the blue bin

A big reason to do this is because you get your deposits back through Return-It. After all, deposits can add up quickly and with rising costs, every dollar counts.

Plus, by recycling your beverage containers through this system, you help save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2021, the Return-It program contributed to a reduction of about 110.2 thousand tonnes of CO2e from being released into the atmosphere. And, used beverage containers can be transformed into useful products. For example, paper-based cartons and drink boxes can become toilet paper, cardboard boxes, egg cartons, roof shingles and plastic lumber. 

4. Don’t forget about the bag-in-a-box

There’s one type of beverage container we want to show a little extra recycling love. In 2021, there were over 4.7 million bag-in-a-box containers sold in B.C., with only 47.8 percent returned for recycling. Maybe you didn’t know that bag-in-a-box containers are part of the deposit system? Now that you’re in the know, spread the word and let’s keep the bag-in-a-boxes out of the trash and part of the Return-It program instead.

Just make sure to bring both the bag and the box back. And there’s no need to separate them–it’s actually best if you leave the bag inside of the box.

5. Skip the counting and sorting with Return-It Express

Life is busy so counting and sorting beverage containers may rarely make it to the top of the to-do list. Return-It Express offers a simple and convenient way to return your beverage containers for refund without having to sort or count. All you do is bag up your containers, tag your bags and drop them off at an Express Depot or at an Express and Go station. You don’t even have to wait in line. Your Express account will be credited with your deposit refund, which can be redeemed via e-transfer or a mailed cheque.

Easy-peasy, right? By doing your part to recycle your beverage containers properly through the Return-It program, you’re helping to ensure that B.C.’s deposit system continues to efficiently and effectively keep millions of containers out of the landfills. 

To learn more, visit return-it.ca.

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