Millions of Yukon cans and bottles have gotten mixed up in an Alberta fraud case. 

Alberta Reclaim and Recycling is appealing a $854,000 fine it received last year for illegally cashing in on out-of-province beverage containers. The Edmonton company was charged for importing and collecting refunds between 2012 and 2013 on 8 million Yukon containers — items that had already been returned for deposit refunds in Yukon.

Alberta environmental protection officers found bags of crushed aluminum cans at the Edmonton depot, which didn't have a crusher. The landlord of the building said bales of containers were delivered weekly, then broken apart and sorted into garbage bags. 

Company employees confirmed cans were being taken from Yukon bales. Documents show there was a 1,000 per cent increase in the number of returns at that depot, starting in 2011. 

Gilbert Van Nes, a lawyer for Alberta's Environmental Appeals Board, said most of the $845,000 penalty accounts for the economic benefit gained by the recycler.

"This is certainly by far, the largest penalty we've seen."

Yukoners paid deposits

The cans came from Raven Recycling in Whitehorse. Raven legitimately sold the crushed product to a broker after paying Yukon consumers their refundable deposit. 

Joy Snyder, Raven's executive director, said her organization provided information to the Alberta government for the initial investigation, after it was determined that Yukon containers ended up in Alberta's recycling stream.

"We were surprised and disappointed to learn that the product was involved in a scam," she said. "It doesn't help our industry that this type of thing happens. We're glad the investigation occurred and that action was taken."

Reclaim maintains there's not enough evidence to prove the containers were allegedly refunded a second time. It's asking for the fine to be removed or reduced significantly. 

The case goes to the Alberta Environmental Appeals Board April 22.