Bottle Drives

Bottle drives are a great way to bring your community together & fundraise for a great cause.

Why plan a bottle drive?

It's worth it! Whether you are buying sports equipment, planning a field trip, or supporting a charity, you'll find that a bottle drive is a fun and easy way to raise money. In fact, the average bottle drive raises between $1,000 and $1,500. Some groups have even made over $3,000. Not bad for a half day's work.

You don't have to go door-to-door or even count all the containers you collect. There are other ways to collect containers besides the traditional door-to-door method. Check out the tips below for other options that may fit style.


Here are the steps you will want to take to make your next bottle drive a success:

1. Organize your bottle drive team

  • Form a team (this may be a committee already in place for fundraising or other community activities)
  • Choose a team leader for your bottle drive
  • Assign responsibilities for the below steps
  • Check with your local municipality regarding guidelines and registration requirements

2. Over-the-counter or Express?

Decide if your group is going to use traditional over-the-counter returns or the Return-It Express system for your bottle drive.

Over-the-counter

Return-It Express

You may want to use over-the-counter returns for your bottle drive if:

  • Your bottle drive will take place in one small area or neighbourhood where there is no nearby Express location (check to see if there’s an Express location near you here)
  • Your bottle drive will be centred at one Return-It depot location that offers bulk/group account services
  • Your team or donors are already familiar with & prefer this method
  • You need to receive your refunds in cash

You may be interested in the Express service for your bottle drive if:

  • Your bottle drive will take place in an area where there are one or more Express locations (check to see if there’s an Express location near you here)
  • Your group doesn’t have the capacity to collect and count the containers your community donates
  • Your group’s donors extend across the province and the bottle drive won’t be in one central area
  • You’d like to collect containers from your donors year-round without having to organize several bottle drive events
  • You’re able to receive refunds as e-transfers or mailed cheques

Learn more about Express for Fundraisers and Bottle Drives

Or... Why not both?

If you can’t decide… Why not both? You can hold traditional, centralized bottle drive events using over-the-counter returns while also keeping an Express group account so your community can donate containers year-round!

3. Contact a Return-It Depot

Your local depot may provide additional resources and services to help with your bottle drive, such as fundraising accounts and pre-sort bag counts. To find an authorized Return-It Depot near you, visit our locations page.

Your local depot is independently owned and operated and may offer extra services based on capacity. You will need to contact your local depot directly to inquire about additional services.

Information about the container types accepted and their deposit refunds is applicable to all Return-It depot locations and can be found here.

4. Establish the Best Collection Methods that Suit Your Style

  • Express |There are now over 80 Return-It depots in BC that offer the Return-It Express service. Donors can drop off their containers in a labelled Express bag at any Return-It Express location without having to sort them first. We take care of the sorting and credit the deposit refunds to your organization’s online account.

Learn more about Express for Fundraisers and Bottle Drives

  • Central Site Collection |Find a good central location like a field, church or parking lot and let the beverage containers come to you.
  • Neighbourhood Pick-Up | Drop off flyers in your community asking people to leave their containers on their front porches on a specific pick-up date. Then, when your event day comes around, simply swing by and pick them up.
  • Bulk/FundraisingAccount | Contact your local Return-It depot and ask to have an account set up for your group. The depot near you may or may not provide this service. With a bulk account, anytime a member of your group or community returns containers to that depot location, the money can go straight to your group’s fundraising account.

5. Spread the Word and Get Social

Once you have decided on the date, the area, and the collection method, you can coordinate the publicity. This is essential to a successful drive.

Have a reason for the drive such as buying sports equipment, financing a trip, helping in a building program, or supporting a charity. Some goals the community can get behind. Then:

  • Develop simple flyers and send or deliver them to every home in your community or pick-up area. Consider doing this twice during the month before your bottle drive! Make sure there are lots of extras for all your group members to take home and distribute. Your flyer should communicate:
    • The name of your organization
    • The reason for your bottle drive
    • Date and time of your bottle drive
    • Your group Express account phone number and nearest Express location
    • The pickup times or hours you’ll be accepting containers at your collection site
    • Collection method (door-to-door or central location) and location if applicable
    • List of refundable container types (find a full list here)
    • Telephone number and/or email address donors can contact for more information
  • Write a short announcement of the event, including the information on the flyer, and send it to the community events page of your local newspaper and to the public service announcement departments at local radio and television stations. You never know who might share information about your bottle drive!
  • Get social- create a Facebook event for your drive and invite as many people as possible. Post on Twitter, Instagram, and email too! Tag us in social posts mentioning your organization’s fundraiser and we’ll share and promote it on our social media channels.

Tag us on Twitter @Return_It or on Facebook @EncorpPacific.

6. Assign Collection Teams and Equipment

  • If you have chosen a door-to-door or neighbourhood pick-up collection, divide the area into sections and assign collectors, drivers and vehicles to these areas
  • If you have chosen a central site or depot drop-off, have a team onsite to greet people bringing in donations, and facilities for handling empty containers until you’re ready to deliver them to a Return-It Depot
  • If you are using over-the-counter returns, have enough volunteers on hand to sort containers - this will help make your drive day efficient. Make sure the volunteers counting containers sort the containers correctly for easy drop-off:
    • Soft drink and juice containers must be kept separate from containers for beer and other alcohol beverages
    • Glass bottles should be packaged in cardboard boxes, in any quantity and sizes, making sure the number can be easily checked
    • If you are using Return-It Express, assign someone to monitor the online account and track your account balance

For any additional assistance and instructions, contact us at marketing@retunit.ca