British Columbia

B.C. Return-It depot will soon accept milk, plant-based beverage containers

Residents in B.C. will soon be able to return containers for milk and plant-based beverages, like soy and almond milk, to a Return-It depot for a 10-cent deposit refund.

The change will start on Feb. 1

Bottles are recycled at the Mount Pleasant Return-It Depot in Vancouver, pictured here in October 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Residents in B.C. will soon be able to return containers for milk and plant-based beverages, like soy and almond milk, to a Return-It depot for a 10-cent deposit refund.

"Any milk drink, as well as things like oat milk, soy milk, rice milk will all be part of our program effective Feb. 1," Allen Langdon, president and CEO of Return-It, said on CBC's On the Island.

He said the change was implemented through the province's Clean B.C. Plastic Action Plan, where it consulted with other organizations last summer on how the province could keep waste out of landfills and improve recycling rates.

"There was a concern that a lot of these containers that were in the commercial or industrial stream were being lost," he said. "So through the deposit system, they're hoping to have those containers recovered and recycled."

Langdon says an annual report shows exactly how many containers were collected, what happened to those containers and what they were turned into.

"Out of all the containers sold, we collected about 76 per cent and generally all of those are recycled," he said. "But of course, we'd like to see that over 80 per cent in the next few years."

He said the focus for Return-It will be on making recycling easy and convenient for residents.

"You'll see more and more of our express locations popping up, which offer a kind of very easy, convenient drop-and-go approach."

Helping to supplement income

Brianne De Man, manager of the Binner's Project, says the addition of milk and plant-based beverage containers to the province's deposit system is another way to support those who are in need of supplementary income.

The Binner's Project is an organization that focuses on building opportunities for low-income people while reducing waste.

"Binners are incredibly hard-working people that are having different difficulties in their lives and have ended up in a situation where they're needing to supplement their income," she said. "Collecting bottles and cans is vital to that."

She said the addition of milk jugs in the deposit system can also be very helpful for binners who face disabilities that have prevented them from participating in the formal workforce.

"Adding milk containers into their hauls is an accessible addition to their haul because milk are lightweight containers," De Man said.

With the recent charge on single-use disposable cups in B.C., De Man says the organization would like the province to also add coffee cups to their deposit system.

With files from The Early Edition and On the Island

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