Milk Container Recycling in British Columbia
As of February 1st, 2022 there is a 10-cent deposit charged on "ready-to-drink" milk and plant-based beverages like oat, soy, and almond.
- Why are "ready-to-drink" milk and plant-based beverage containers being added to the Return-It system?
This is a result of a Government of B.C. Recycling Regulation change, implemented through the CleanBC Plastic Action Plan. As an industry-owned not-for-profit stewardship agency, we are responsible for managing B.C.’s Return-It beverage container system.
- What types and sizes of milk and plant-based beverage containers will you be accepting?
Return-It collection sites will accept all "ready-to-drink" milk and plant-based beverage containers of various sizes, purchased on February 1, 2022 or later. Containers that are NOT included in the program are those not meant primarily as “ready-to-drink”, such as infant formula, meal replacement or dietary supplements, coffee cream and other coffee additives, whipping cream, buttermilk, drinkable yogurt and kefir.
- Why are containers for other milk products not also being accepted? (i.e. whipping cream, drinkable yogurt, etc.)
As defined in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Regulation, modified milk products or milk products that are not normally considered beverages, such as meal replacement beverages, coffee additives, whipping cream, and drinkable yogurt, are not eligible for a 10-cent deposit refund.
While these containers are not eligible for a deposit refund as there was no deposit charged at the time of purchase, they can be recycled at Return-It depots that also accept packaging and paper or in your curbside bluebox/building recycling bins as these containers are part of the RecycleBC program.
- When are these changes coming into effect?
Effective February 1st, 2022, a 10-cent deposit will be charged on all "ready-to-drink" milk and plant-based beverage containers regardless of the size, and the 10-cent deposit will be refunded when you return the empty containers for recycling.
- Why is this change happening now?
This is a result of a Government of B.C. regulation change, implemented through the CleanBC Plastic Action Plan.
- Will all Return-It sites accept “ready-to-drink” milk and plant-based beverage containers?
Yes. All Return-It sites will take the acceptable “ready-to-drink” milk and plant-based beverages for recycling.
- Does this mean I can no longer put my milk container in the blue bin?
Consumers can still place their milk and plant-based beverage containers into their residential and curbside (blue box) recycling bin, but they will not be eligible for the 10-cent deposit refund paid at the time of purchase.
- Will consumers be able to return containers on February 1st if they were purchased before that date?
No, only containers purchased on February 1, 2022 or later can be returned for a deposit refund.
- Can consumers bring back milk containers to retail stores to receive a refund?
While retailers will accept a limited quantity of milk and plant-based beverage containers, the best option is for consumers to return these containers by visiting our over 170 Return-It sites province-wide for their deposit. Only clean containers will be accepted for returns, so consumers are encouraged to rinse out containers before returning them.
We also recommend consumers confirm with their local retail location regarding the types and allowable number of containers they have the capacity to accept.
- Can I crush/flatten my milk, plant-based beverage containers?
It's best that the containers are not crushed or flattened. Depots look at the label, barcode and other identifying marks to establish that they were purchased in B.C. this ensures us that the deposit was paid and can be refunded. If the containers are crushed or flattened, they may not be able to verify the container and will not be able to provide a refund of the deposit.
- What is a deposit?
Deposits are charged when a beverage container is purchased. They are returned in full when you bring back the empty container for recycling. These deposits are set through government legislation. See the B.C. Government's page on Beverage Container Regulation. For a full listing of all containers that can be returned to a Return-It site, visit return-it.ca/beverage/products
- What is a Container Recycling Fee (CRF) and isn’t this an additional cost to the consumer?
The Container Recycling Fee (CRF) is the fee Return-It charges to cover the net cost of recycling a beverage container. CRFs have been in place for beverage containers in British Columbia for more than 18 years. The CRF varies for each beverage container category. As a not-for-profit, product stewardship agency, we only charge the net cost for recovering and recycling beverage containers after any unredeemed deposits and commodity revenues for that container type have been used.