Bottle Bill Resource Guide

Name  Solid Waste-Resource Management Regulations made under Section 102 of the Environment Act (Div. 1, Part 2: Beverage Container Programs) [1]
Date Enacted 1994
Date Implemented Implemented 6 February, 1996; Last Updated June 2019
Beverages Covered All beverages except milk and dairy alternatives
Containers Covered Plastics, metal (aluminum/tinplate), bimetal, glass, gable top, Tetra Pak, all beverage containers <5L
Amount of Deposit

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

Alcoholic beverages only:

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*

*Consumers receive only half of their deposit back when they return non-refillable containers (see "Other Fees" section). Refillable containers receive the full return back.

Reclamation System Return to depots (80 locations) [2]
Handling Fee 4.27¢ CAD
Other Fees Half-back system: only half of the deposit is returned when non-refillable containers are redeemed. The kept value is used to fund the system.
Unredeemed Deposits Retained by Divert NS and used to offset costs. Surplus is used for municipal curbside and depot programs.
Program Success

2018-2019 Return Rates [2]:

Aluminum cans: 89.3%
Non-refillable glass: 86.9%
PET plastic bottles: 78.8%
Other plastic bottles: 49.4%
Bi-metal cans: 40.7%
Gable-top/Aseptic packaging: 56.2%
Tetra-Pak: 56.7%
Overall: 82.9%

2016-2017 Return Rates:

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 in 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 80 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 Resource Recovery Fund Board (RRFB), with most operators being small, independent businesses.

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

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.


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] "Global Deposit Book 2020: An Overview of Deposit Systems for One-Way Beverage Containers." Reloop Inc. 15 December 2020.

[3] "The Nova Scotia Solid Waste-Resource Management: Strategy at a Glance." Province of Nova Scotia. Last Updated 1 May 2019.


Last Updated on 23 December 2020.

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Contact - Nova Scotia


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

Phone: 902-424-4300
Fax: 902-424-0569
[email protected]


Divert NS
Divert NS
35 Commercial Street, Suite 400
Truro, Nova Scotia B2N 3H9
Toll-free: 1-877-313-7732
Email: [email protected]

Media inquiries:
Carolyn Pierce, Communications Manager
E: [email protected]
T: (902) 897-3253