|Name of Law||beverage container recycling program|
|Date Implemented||December 1, 1997|
|Beverages covered||All beverages|
|Containers covered||All sealed containers|
|Amount of deposit|| Up to 1 litre: 10¢
Over 1 litre: 25¢
|Handling Fees||Fees range from 1.67 to 12 cents as specified in the administrative bylaws.|
|Reclamation System|| 212 permitted province-wide depots.
Beer containers are collected through licencees, liquor stores and beer stores.
|Unredeemed Deposits||Retained by distributor/bottler|
|Program success||2012 return rates:2
Overall – 82.4%
Aluminum – 87.7%
Bi-Metal – 78.8%
Glass – 89.9%
Glass (refillable) – 93.8%
Other plastics – 76.3%
Polycoat – 67.1%
Alberta’s deposit-return system is operated by a consortium of 2127 independent, owner-operated depots and overseen by the Alberta Beverage Container Management Board (ABCMB). The Board oversees the activities of Alberta bottle depots, beverage manufacturers and the two collection system agents for beverage manufacturers, the Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation (ABCRC) and the Alberta Beer Container Corporation (ABCC).
The Alberta Government does not supply any funding for the operation of the beverage container recycling system. Depot operators and beverage manufacturers fund the administrative costs of the BCMB through a levy based on the returns of beverage containers.
The Beverage Container Recycling Regulation,5 sections 8 through 16 govern the setting of deposit fees, the refund structure, etc.
In this system a consumer is entitled to a cash refund of the full deposit paid on each container, as prescribed in the regulations. The manufacturer is required to pick up the containers from the depots and to reimburse the amount of the deposit paid to the consumer. The manufacturer also pays a handling charge for each container received by the depot operator.
The depot operators receive and sort containers at their premises. Wine and spirits containers are sorted by color. Refillables are sorted by type and manufacturer. Non-refillable soft drink containers are sorted by material type (aluminum, glass, plastic, composite, etc.) and color where applicable. The manufacturers are required to pick up their containers from every depot in the province and do so through a company they have created - the Alberta Beverage Container Recovery Corporation (ABCRC).
Depots collect all beverage containers except those for beer that is produced in the province. All imported beer containers, however, go into the depot system. Also, Big Rock, a small domestic brewer, has its containers picked up by the depot system. Beyond the depots, the system is operated on a daily basis by the ABCRC a common collection and processing agent formed by a consortium of soft drink and grocery businesses. ABCRC is responsible for collecting deposits from producers, paying refunds and handling fees, and collecting, processing and marketing scrap materials. Unredeemed deposits and scrap revenues accrue to ABCRC for management of the system.
• Albertans returned close to two billion beverage containers to bottle depots in 2012, resulting in a return rate of 82.4% for the year.
• A record 2.35 billion containers were sold last year in the province, up from 2.26 billion in 2011. Of those, 1.94 billion were returned to a depot in 2012, compared to 1.89 billion
the previous year, the highest number returned annually to date.
• The Beverage Container Management Board’s (BCMB) annual survey found that 98% of Alberta households surveyed are recycling their beverage containers, while 91% return them to a depot for refund.
• Awareness that beverage containers can be returned for a refund increased significantly for most types of containers since the 2012 survey.
• The BCMB’s new Advertising of Deposit Policy went into effect on January 1, 2012. All retailers are now required to clearly identify the deposit amount for beverage containers, separate from the price of the product.
• $1 million was provided to 87 depot operators across Alberta through the Recycling Infrastructure Partnership in 2012. The program provided depots with funding to place over 40,000 pieces of new recycling infrastructure (such as bins, bags and event trailers) in their communities6
See Benchmarking Evaluation of Alberta’s Stewardship
Program for Recycling Empty Beverage Containers [pdf] for an analysis of the Alberta deposit system
1. Beverage Container Recycling Regulation, Alta. Reg. 101/1997, ss. 3(2).
3. Beverage Container Recycling Regulation, Alta. Reg. 101/1997, para. 10(1)(b).
4. Alta. Reg. 101/1997
5. Alta. Reg. 101/1997
6. BCMB 2012 Annual Report
7. BCMB 2007 Annual Report, p. 17