The new program allows for customers to receive full refunds on alcoholic cans. Photo Submitted

Fernie Bottle Depot simplifies recycling and returns

The pilot project removes the need to sort alcoholic cans from non alcoholic containers

On July 10, the Fernie Bottle Depot launched a new program to simplify the recycling of alcohol and pop cans.

The program, dubbed the No Sort Aluminum Cans Pilot Program, seeks to increase recycling rates by adding ease, speed, and convenience to the already existing sorting system. The six month pilot allows customers to return unsorted alcohol and non alcohol cans in exchange for full refunds and streamlined deposits.

Depots must possess a Brewers Recycled Container Collection Council (BRCCC) and Brewers Distributor Limited (BDL) recycling system license in order to manage aluminum alcohol cans and provide recyclers with a full 10 cent deposit refund. Before the new program, depots without the license could accept alcohol containers, however because the materials were overseen by two different stewardship agencies, part of the refunds were used to cover the depot’s cost for handling the cans. As such, alcohol cans were still accepted at the Fernie Bottle Depot prior to the pilot, however customers were required to separate their alcohol and pop cans and were not provided a full deposit refund.

With few of British Columbia’s depots possessing the aforementioned licenses, many other customers returning cans to depots without the BRCCC/BDL license complained about reduced deposits and having to sometimes visit two collection sites. The pilot was created to encourage more people to use the depots in an effort to divert recyclable material away from landfills and waterways.

“Recycling is important as there are many different plastics that end up in our water systems or in our landfills,” said Jason Lee, owner of the Fernie Bottle Depot. “As we all know, plastics are not biodegradable. What we strive for is to lessen the amount of beverage containers that end up in our waterways and landfills. This is something small that us as a community can do to help the environment.”

The pilot project is run by Encorp Pacific, a British Columbian nonprofit product stewardship organization. It is currently operating at select Return-It depots in a number of communities throughout British Columbia, including Kimberley, Nelson, Trail and Salmo.

Return-It strives to modernize and simplify B.C.’s beverage container recycling system to create a greener and healthier province. This pilot is one of many initiatives they created after noticing ample consumer feedback asking for a greater focus on sustainability and ease.

“Even in these unprecedented times, British Columbians agree that recycling is important,” said Allen Langdon, president & chief executive officer of Return-It. “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.”

Fernie’s pilot will be trialed until December 31, however Lee hopes it will transition to a successful permanent change.

The Fernie Bottle Depot is located at 1291 Ridgemont Ave and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

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