Nova Scotia

Charities bemoan end of 5-cent bottle refund

Sports teams and charities say they are worried a HRM proposal to do away with a five-cent refund for cans and bottles could cut into their fundraising efforts.
City council is considering changing how people recycle in Halifax and how much money they get back for their empty bottles. (CBC)

Sports teams and charities say they are worried an HRM proposal to do away with a five-cent refund for cans and bottles could cut into their fundraising efforts.

Many organizations raise money through bottle drives.

Rob Rutledge said his son's team used bottle money to travel to a hockey tournament in Quebec City.

"Well, our hockey team a couple of years ago raised $4,000 on a bottle drive in a single afternoon," he said.

"The kids would have to do something else like bagging groceries. But why not do something that is practical and good for the environment? I definitely don't want to see the deposit go."

Bottle drives wouldn't be a source of money if a city staff proposal becomes a reality.

Vote moves forward

The Resource Recovery Fund Board oversees the depots that accept bottles, cans and other drink containers. The city estimates the rising costs of running the Resource Recovery Fund Board could mean a loss of $1 million a year for the HRM.

On Tuesday, councillors voted 14 to one to ask the province to consider its idea as part of an ongoing provincial review.

Under the city's proposal, patrons would pay a five-cent tax on most drink containers and wouldn't get any money back.

Instead people would put them at the end of their driveways along with the rest of their recycling destined for the city's sorting station.

Coun. Jennifer Watts said the change would cut out duplication.

"One is through the RRFB and every municipality has their own recycling so does it make sense to have those two services? Is that the best use of the money? Is there some other way of reducing costs?" she asked.

The head of the recycling board says that without the financial incentive of a refund, people would be less likely to recycle containers.

"I think we've all noticed as we've travelled throughout Nova Scotia seeing people in the roadways and the ditches collecting those bottles. I think without that financial incentive you'd see a lot of that disappear as well," Jeff MacCallum said.

The city would have to ask the provincial government to eliminate the deposit.

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