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 2/6/1996; Last updated June 2019
Beverages Covered All ready-to-serve beverages <5L [2]
Beverages Not Covered
  • Milk and milk-based products
  • Soy and rice based products
  • Meal replacement beverages
  • Physician prescribed liquid foods or diets
  • Baby formula
  • Beverage concentrates
  • Wine making kits
  • Non-alcoholic beverages ≥ 5 litres
  • Beverages not purchased in Nova Scotia [3]
Containers Covered
  • Plastics
  • Metal
  • Bimetal
  • Glass
  • Gable top
  • Tetra Pak
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: CAD$1.20 per dozen bottles

*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 depot (more than 77 depot locations) [4]
Handling Fee 4.85¢ CAD [5]
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

Overall Return Rates:

  FY2017 [6]
FY2018 [7] FY2019 [8]
FY2020 [9]
FY2021 [10]
FY2022 [11]
FY 2023 [12]
Aluminum 88.7% 90.6% 89.3% 87.7% 88.9% 88.2% 84.7%
Glass 86.3% 86.7% 86.9% 84.5% 79.9% 81.0% 80.7%
PET/HDPE 78.0% 75.8% 78.8% 76.7% 79.0% 80.5% 74.6%
Steel/Bi-Metal 44.4% 37.1% 40.7% 43.4% 51.4% 54.9% 53.6%
Gable - 60.1% 55.7% 50.8% 44.2% 50% 50%
Tetra - 48.7% 52.2% 50% 43.9% 41.9% 36.8%
Other Materials 21.4% 33.5% 49.4% 39.6% 38.9% 28.7% 26.9%
Total 80.8% 81.4% 82.9% 80.9% 82.4% 82.3% 78%

*These numbers do not include refillable beer bottles or milk which are collected separately. 

Complementary Recycling Programs

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



The Deposit-Refund Program for Beverage Containers came into effect in 1996. Divert NS operates The Beverage Container Deposit Refund Program; the organization is regulated within the NS Solid Waste Resource Management Regulations. [13]

The 77 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.

Beer System 

Beer and liquor are sold exclusively in the liquor stores. Refillable beer bottles are not part of the beverage container program administered by Divert NS, but are instead refunded by the Nova Scotia Brewers Association. [14] Unlike the beverage container program, the refillable bottle system does not operate on a half-back system; consumers receive the entirety of their deposit back when returning domestic bottles. Consumers receive 10¢ CAD for each domestic beer bottle they return, with a minimum of one dozen bottles.

Beer is exempt from the depot system, however, the containers are returned to Enviro Depots who are refunded by the beer companies. 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] "Beverage Container Deposit Refund Program"Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change. July 31, 2023.

[3] "Beverage Containers." Divert NS. Last Accessed August 2023.

[4] "Find a Depot." Divert NS. Last Accessed July 27, 2023.

[5] Private correspondence with Nick Chestnut, Divert NS. August 8, 2023.

[6] "Deposit Systems for One-Way Beverage Containers: Global Overview (2018)." Reloop Inc. April 2018.

[7] Private correspondence with Nick Chestnut, Divert NS. August 15, 2023.

[8] See footnote 6.

[9] See footnote 6.

[10] See footnote 6.

[11] See footnote 6.

[12] Private correspondence with Nick Chestnut, Divert NS. August 8, 2023.

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

[14] See footnote 3.


Last Updated on August 15, 2023.


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Contact - Nova Scotia


Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change:
Solid Waste-Resource Management Division

P: (902) 424-4300
Fax: (902) 424-0569
E: [email protected]


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