Bottle Bill Resource Guide

Name  Solid Waste – Resource Management Regulations Mandate
Date Enacted Enacted 1994; 
Date Implemented Implemented 1996; Last Updated 2007
Beverages Covered All beverages except milk
Containers Covered Plastics, metal (aluminum/tinplate), bimetal, glass, gable top, Tetra Pak, all beverage containers <5l
Amount of Deposit

Half-back system: half of the deposit is returned when containers are redeemed, except for refillable beer bottle deposits which are fully refundable.

Non-alcohol < 5l: CAD$0.10 / CAD$0.05

Wine & spirit ≤ 500ml: CAD$0.10 / CAD$0.05

Wine & spirit >500ml: CAD$0.20 / CAD$0.10

Beer cans & bottles <500ml: CAD$0.10 / CAD$0.05

Beer cans & bottles ≥ 500ml: CAD$0.20 / CAD$0.10

Reclamation System Return to depots (78 locations) [2]
Handling Fee 4.27¢
Unredeemed Deposits Retained by Divert NS and used to offset costs. Surplus is used for municipal curbside and depot programs.
Program Success

2016-2017 return rates by material:

Aluminum cans 88.7%
Non-refillable glass 86.3%
PET plastic bottles 78%
Other plastic bottles 21.4%
Bi-metal cans 44.4%
Gable-top/Aseptic packaging 56.2%
Total Non-refillables 81%
Refillable beer bottles 97%
Total containers 80.8%

Complementary Recycling Programs

100% of population have access to multi-material curbside recycling. More than 90% have access to curbside organic collection. 100% than have access to depots.



The Deposit-Refund Program for Beverage Containers came into effect on April 1, 1996, and applies to all ready-to-serve beverages - except milk, milk products, soya milk, rice beverages, certain meal replacements, formulated liquid diets, foods for low energy diets, baby formulas, concentrates, non-alcoholic beverages 5-litres or greater, and all "return for refund" beverages purchased outside Nova Scotia. Divert NS operates The Beverage Container Deposit Refund Program and is regulated within the NS Solid Waste Resource Management Regulations. [6]

This stable, entrenched, half-back deposit system for "all" beverage containers is run by Divert NS a non-profit organization. The 78 privately owned Enviro Depots are required by law to refund without discounting and to take back all program beverage containers. Divert NS keeps the unredeemed deposits. Depots are licensed by the RRFB, with most operators being small, independent business people.

Under Nova Scotia's half-back system, deposits are paid on all program containers and half is refunded. The province has been divided into seven regions, run by regional coordinators, to facilitate recycling efforts. Landfill disposal bans exist on all materials that go through the "universal depot" system as well as steel/tin/glass food containers, waste paint, selected plastics, anti-freeze, used tires and compostable organic material

The SolidWaste-Resource Management Regulations, promulgated under the Environment Act, govern the deposit and refund regime. See especially Part II – Industry Stewardship.

Beer System 

Beer and liquor are sold exclusively in the liquor stores. The Brewers send beer to the Liquor Commission which initiates the deposit. The Brewers do not receive a deposit on sale to the Liquor Commission. Beer is exempt from the depot system, however, the containers are returned either to the liquor stores or through the Enviro Depots. Like New Brunswick, there are a number of bottle dealers in place who run Enviro Depots and pick up beer bottles from other depot operators. Just over half of the Enviro Depots are licensed Brewers' bottle dealers. These licensees receive a handling fee but must have a trailer load of empties before the Brewers will accept them for pick-up. Beer cans flow to Encorp and the Brewers never see them again.


Milk containers are collected under a collective voluntary agreement between the Nova Scotia Environment, the Nova Scotia Solid Waste Management Regions, and the Atlantic Dairy Council.


1. Solid Waste-Resource Management Regulations, N.S. Reg. 25/96, s. 15 as am. by: O.I.C. 2000-287, N.S. Reg. 100/2000.

2. DivertNS "What Goes Where"

3. N.S. Reg. 25/96

4. Maureen Woodlock, personal communication, December 11, 2008.

5. Source: Clarissa Morawski. "Table 1.3b: Beverage Container Collection Rates" Who Pays What: An Analysis of Beverage Container Recovery and Costs in Canada.

6. Nova Scotia Environment: Bottle Deposit Refund Program

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Contact - Nova Scotia


Nova Scotia Environment and Labour:
Solid Waste-Resource Management Division



Divert NS