Recycling is a large and diverse topic, and as more Albertans are recycling more beverage containers some common questions arise. People want to know how they find their nearest Depot, why container recycling fees differ, which beverage containers are recyclable and refundable, or what happens to containers after they leave the Depot.
What is a container recycling fee (CRF) and why is it charged?
Beyond your fully refundable deposit, a non-refundable CRF may be applied at the point of purchase to cover the net costs in recycling beverage containers. The fee varies depending on the material the container is made from and the size of the container. Review the Container Recycling Fee Brochure for more information.
The CRFs are based on a not-for-profit formula used to fund the portion of system's operating costs (collection, transportation and marketing) that are not covered by unredeemed deposits and material revenues (i.e., the ‘salvage value’ of the containers). These fees are monitored on a regular basis and published each year, with the new fees usually coming into effect on February 1st.
Aren’t the fees just another government tax?
No. The beverage container recovery system in Alberta operates autonomously from government and does not receive funding of any kind from government.
Why do containers have different container recycling fees?
The container recycling fees vary by the size of the container and the material it’s made from. The fees cover the costs associated with recovering and processing the used beverage containers.
Why is there a deposit on beverage containers sold in Alberta?
This approach is consistent with Alberta’s waste management strategy to encourage Albertans to take responsibility for resource conservation and to minimize waste.
What are the deposit/refund amounts for beverage containers?
When you return beverage containers to a Depot in Alberta, you will receive a refund of the deposit you initially paid when you purchased the product from a retailer. The deposit/refund amount for containers 1 litre or less is 10 cents and for containers larger than 1 litre the deposit/refund is 25 cents.
What types of beverage containers are refundable?
All “ready-to-serve” beverage containers sold in Alberta are part of the recycling system. There are over 150,000 beverage containers registered in the province, including: plastic drink bottles and jugs, aluminum cans, polycoat containers, glass bottles and metal cans. If you are unsure if a container can be returned for a refund, check with your Depot or call BCMB at 1-888-424-7671.
Can I return a concentrate mix container to a Depot for a refund?
No. Deposits aren’t charged on concentrate mixes. They are not considered “ready-to-serve” as they need to be mixed prior to consumption.
How do I find a Depot near me?
There are 221 Depots in Alberta. To find your nearest location check here.
How can I help make my visit to the Depot be more efficient?
Here are some things you can do to prepare for a trip to the Depot:
- Ensure that your containers are empty.
- Give the containers a quick rinse, especially milk containers.
- Leave the caps, tabs and labels on.
- Keep in mind that Saturday is usually the busiest day and plan around it.
- Confirm the hours of operation at your local Depot.
- If you pre-sort and count your containers before heading to a Depot it can help to make the process faster; however, the Depots will do this for you.
- Please take all boxes and bags home with you to reuse or recycle.
Can I flatten milk containers before I take them to a Depot?
Yes, you can squash them flat so they take up less space in your recycling bags or bins, but leave the label on the container so it is still recognizable to Depot staff as a registered milk container.
If I have a large volume of containers, can I arrange a pick up?
If you operate a business that produces a large volume of beverage containers, check with your local Depot to see if they or a charitable partner provide a commercial pickup service.
What if I want to return my beverage containers to a Depot and donate the refund?
Most Depots have a way for you to donate your containers to a local charity. Depots also work with community groups and local organizations to host bottle drives. If you are interested in donating your containers, setting up a donation program, or holding a bottle drive, contact your local Depot.
What if I think I received an inaccurate refund on my recent visit to the Depot?
There are certain steps that can be taken in the event you believe you did not receive an accurate refund before you accept payment from the Depot.
You can ask for a recount of your containers. Depots may place them back into the sorting station for a recount or, when available, may review camera footage of the count.
If you are still not satisfied with the recount and think you have properly counted your beverage containers using a rate of 10 cents for containers 1 litre (or less) and 25 cents for containers over 1 litre, contact the Beverage Container Management Board before accepting the Depot’s payment by calling 1-888-424-7671 and asking for a Compliance Officer. The Compliance Officer will discuss the issue with you and work with the Depot to resolve the problem. The BCMB monitors Depot refund accuracy with a mystery shopper program. All Depots are audited numerous times throughout the year by unidentified “mystery shoppers” The refund provided to the mystery shopper is then compared to the expected refund. Depots are penalized by providing inaccurate refunds. Repetitive poor counts can jeopardize a Depot's operating permit.
Can I return beverage containers purchased outside Alberta for a refund?
No. Only containers that have been purchased in Alberta and charged a deposit can be refunded at Depots. The refund deposit system for beverage containers in Alberta is dependent on the cycle of a deposit charged, and then the refund paid out when that beverage container is returned to a Depot. Any imbalance in the system can be very costly and puts the system at risk.
What is the handling commission?
The handling commission is a fee paid to Depots by manufacturers to reimburse the Depots for expenses related to collecting and handling beverage containers.
What is the relationship between the Alberta Bottle Depot Association (ABDA), the Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation (ABCRC), the Alberta Beer Container Corporation (ABCC) and the Beverage Container Management Board (BCMB)?
The beverage container recycling system is overseen by the Beverage Container Management Board (BCMB). The BCMB is the system’s regulator as mandated by Alberta Environment and Parks. The Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation (ABCRC) is approved by the BCMB to be the agent for the collection of non-refillable beverage containers and the Alberta Beer Container Corporation (ABCC) is a collection service provider for refillable beer containers. The Alberta Bottle Depot Association (ABDA) represents Depot owners in Alberta. All four organizations work in partnership to ensure the collection and processing of used beverage containers in the province.
Can I leave the caps and labels on my beverage containers when returing to an Alberta Depot?
Yes! Our system is able to accept your empty beverage containers that still have the lids, caps and labels on them.