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You may have seen posters in a nearby shop indicating new measures regarding the deposit-refund program. Or perhaps, like us, you’ve tried to understand this new management system by reading up on it. Not to worry, this short read will help you get to the bottom of it all.
What is the expansion of the deposit-refund system?
It’s essentially an update of the previous and current deposit-refund system, allowing a greater number of beverage containers to be recovered and making them easier to recycle.
It’s important to understand that this modernization is based on an extended producer responsibility (EPR) approach. This approach puts the onus of managing end-of-life products on those who market and sell them.
On October 24, 2022, Recyc-Québec mandated the Association québécoise de récupération des contenants de boisson (AQRCB) to manage the expansion of the deposit-refund system. This organization is responsible for designing, implementing, financing and managing the modernization of the system.
The update will be implemented in two phases: the first is to standardize the 10-cent deposit on all aluminum beverage containers. The second will apply to all glass, plastic and multi-layer beverage containers, as well as 25 cents on certain containers.
Where are we now?
On November 1, 2023, phase 1 of the expanded deposit-refund on aluminum beverage containers came into effect across the province. All existing returnable containers, as well as those used to market aluminum “ready-to-drink” beverages of at least 100 mL and no more than 2 litres, are now refundable at 10 cents each.
For example, a can of your favourite sparkling beverage, with or without alcohol, 473 mL or 355 mL, is now 10 cents.
Starting March 1, 2025, the second phase of the deposit-refund expansion on glass, plastic and multi-layer beverage containers will come into effect. Phase 2 will apply to all “multi-material” beverage containers from 100 mL to 2 L. In addition, glass beverage containers over 500 mL will be 25 cents each. You’ll be able to return your bottles of water or wine for a refund from then on.
According to the AQRCB, refunds for returnable containers are available at participating retailers or at designated locations. You can now access the interactive map of return locations to find one nearest you.
The retailers in question are those whose sales area exceeds 375m2. As a result, retailers without this sales area are no longer obliged to take back returnable containers. Stay tuned for these changes!
For example, IGA grocery stores are designated locations for your refundable containers, available throughout the province. It’s also important to remember that Earth Day Canada is committed to supporting merchants in their efforts to reduce waste and promote its recovery.
Why return your cans and bottles anyway?
The deposit-refund system, which Quebec has been using for over 40 years, has proved to be an effective way of improving both the quantity and quality of recycling. As Consignaction, an environmental organization in Montreal, tells us,
“100% of the cans and returnable bottles you return to the deposit system are recycled. The deposit allows containers to be sorted at source, facilitating the recovery of quality materials. It’s recognized as the most environmentally friendly way to recycle beverage containers. Depositing your beverage containers is a real gesture for the environment.”
To expand your knowledge of the deposit-refund system in Quebec and become a can superhero, here are two articles written by our colleagues at Earth Day Canada:
– Tout savoir sur la consigne au Québec! (French only)
– The Deposit-Refund System: Yesterday, Today and Forever?
How to prepare
It’s way easier than you think! Now that you have a better understanding of the adjustments made to the previous deposit-refund system, all you have to do is tweak or maintain your good habits.
Nevertheless, here are a few tips and tricks you might find useful:
• Look for current and future returnable containers in your grocery cart;
• In your living spaces, place a deposit bin close to the recycling bin to create the habit of sorting the right containers;
• At gatherings or festive events, become a role model and share your knowledge with those around you: point out the right choices to make;
• Use the interactive map to find locations near you;
• Be patient with your merchants; they’ll adjust to the new regulations;
• In the event of problems at participating stores, here’s a reference number to contact: 1-877-CANETTE.
All in all, let’s remember that returning your cans and bottles is a real gesture for the environment, and the latest and future updates to the deposit-refund system are a step in the right direction.
“Toward a modernized, environmentally responsible deposit-refund system for quebec” Modernization – Consignaction. S.d. https://consignaction.ca/en/citizens/depositsystemmodernization/
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