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Return-It upgrades B.C. container return system


BURNABY, B.C. – British Columbia’s industry-run deposit return organization Return-It is  modernizing the province’s beverage container recycling system.

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 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,” said Allen Langdon, president and CEO of Return-It.

“That’s why we are doing even more to help consumers 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.”

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 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 percent 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.”

Return-It recycles over 1 billion beverage containers a year. Every plastic container is responsibly recycled in B.C. and Alberta, where they’re cleaned and broken down into plastic pellets that can be used to make new plastic bottles.

Return-It is an industry owned, not-for-profit, product stewardship organization with beverage container management as its core business. With over 25 years of experience and over 20 billion containers diverted from BC landfills and waterways, its mandate is to develop, manage and operate a cost-effective system for the responsible collection and recycling of beverage containers across British Columbia.