Return-It Blog

Return-It Modernizes B.C.’s Beverage Container Recycling System

Return-It is announcing a broad suite of innovations to modernize British Columbia’s beverage container recycling system to make it easier and more convenient to recycle — ensuring future generations can enjoy a greener, healthier province. The initiatives being announced today reflect feedback from consumers and put a clear focus on enhancing the Return-It recycling system to divert more material from our landfills, oceans and waterways.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Return-It has been adapting and evolving its system by reducing touch points while improving convenience. The province-wide, not-for-profit product stewardship organization is also using new transportation technologies to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with recycling.

The enhancements begin today with the launch of a six-month pilot program at select Return-It depots that will enable consumers to return both alcohol and non-alcohol aluminum beverage containers together for recycling — without having to sort — as one stream with one deposit amount. Consumers can visit Return-It.ca/nosortingcans for a list of the initial participating locations. This list will continually be updated over the coming weeks.

The series of other initiatives being rolled out this year to modernize the beverage container recycling system for a greener future include:

  • Expanding the number of Return-It Express Plus and solar-powered Express & GO contactless return stations around the province, including Vancouver Island, with new stations located in partnership with major retailers and shopping centres
  • Implementing a 10-cent unified deposit for all beverage containers — starting this fall — to simplify the overall system and make it even easier for consumers to recycle all their beverage containers — regardless of the size
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the implementation of a hybrid compaction truck that will reduce the number of vehicles used to transport containers for processing
  • Partnering with the Salvation Army to expand Return-It’s popular textiles collection program to safely drop off used clothing for recycling
  • Introducing new automated sorting technologies and reverse-vending machines inside select Return-It depots to limit touch-points in order to improve safety for depot employees and support the recycling experience

“Even in these unprecedented times, British Columbians agree that recycling is important. That’s why we are doing even more to help consumers to easily return their empty beverage containers for recycling, with innovations that build on our success and provide new, convenient options for today’s busy lives. These changes are based on consumer feedback, and we want to keep hearing from British Columbians so we can continue to enhance our program.” said Allen Langdon, President & CEO of Return-It.

These and other initiatives are included in Return-It’s new Stewardship Plan which is up for consultation, and British Columbians are invited to share their feedback at www.returnit.ca/beverageplan2020.

In response to growing demand, this modernization program builds on the success of Return-It Express — a convenient, contactless and easy recycling experience that takes less than a minute. With refunds uploaded directly to a user’s online account, and redeemed via e-Transfer, Express doesn’t require any sorting or cash handling.

“In an age when consumers want both convenience and safety, it’s perhaps no surprise that our Express program has seen an impressive 95% satisfaction rating, with an average of 1,500 new users signing up each week,” added Langdon. “By listening carefully to consumer feedback, and working together to make our system even better, we can collectively increase B.C.’s recycling rates — with the shared goal of keeping empty containers out of our landfills, oceans and waterways.”

“Even as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us into new routines, we can’t lose sight of the importance of maintaining good recycling habits, I applaud Return-It for finding new ways to help British Columbians return their beverage containers — safely and conveniently — so we can ensure they don’t end up in our oceans and waterways.” said Alison Wood, co-founder of Ocean Ambassadors Canada, an organization committed to turning the tide of marine pollution by empowering youth, creating ambassadors, and inspiring change.

“It is great to see Return-It modernizing its system to make beverage container recycling more convenient for British Columbians, these initiatives are a positive step forward in improving recovery rates and keeping material out of our landfills.” said Brock Macdonald, CEO of the Recycling Council of BC.