crushed cans

Beverage Container Program

What is the Beverage Container Program?

The Beverage Container Program (BCP) is a recycling initiative to help divert containers that would otherwise end up in Northwest Territories (NWT) landfills or as litter along streets and highways. 

The BCP operates through a network of community depots. 

Since 2005, Northerners have recycled over 358 million beverage containers. This past year alone, 2,001 tonnes of carbon dioxide was avoided, the same as taking 435 cars off the road.

The BCP was the first program created under the Waste Reduction and Recovery Act. 

How does it work?

The BCP has a network of community depots reporting to three regional processing centres in Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik. The depots are operated by businesses, schools, community governments and individuals. The BCP employs 11 fulltime and 34 part-time staff across the NWT.

The depots collect beverage containers, pay refundable deposits to NWT residents and send beverage containers to regional processing centres in Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik.

Regional processing centres sort and bale beverage containers. The baled containers are shipped to recycling facilities in Alberta and the United States.

What can be recycled?

Under the BCP, all ready-to-serve beverage containers can be recycled, including soft drinks, energy drinks, water, juice and alcohol containers.

Containers that cannot be recycled include infant formula, milk and liquid milk containers smaller than 30mL, containers sold empty or open containers filled with a drink when sold.

Drop and go!

Drop and Go was developed to make your visit to recycling depot in Yellowknife and Hay River quick and effortless. Register for a Drop and Go account, then simply drop your bags and boxes of beverage containers and go! 

Changes to the Beverage Container Program

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has amended its Beverage Container Regulations, effective February 1, 2016. These changes make the program simpler and more effective. Some changes are simply administrative and unlikely to affect the public. 

There are two key changes:

  • Container categories are simplified
  • Fees associated with the program have changed 

Container categories

  • Categories are based only on the type of material and the size of the container.
  • Container categories and refundable deposits match Alberta.
  • Simpler categories make it easier for the public, depot staff and distributors to sort containers.

​​​New categories and surcharges

Beverage Container Categories1 Surcharge
Volume Type

Refundable deposit

Container recycling fee2

Total surcharge per container
(A) + (B)

< 1 L Glass $0.10 $0.13 $0.23
  Aluminum $0.10 $0.08 $0.18
  Plastic $0.10 $0.08 $0.18
  Tetra Pack/
Drink Pouch
$0.10 $0.05 $0.15
  Gable top $0.10 $0.05 $0.15
  Bi-metal $0.10 $0.05 $0.15
  Refillable glass bottles $0.10 $0.10 $0.20
> 1 L Glass $0.25 $0.13 $0.38
  Plastic $0.25 $0.10 $0.35
  Tetra Pk/Drink Pouch $0.25 $0.10 $0.35
  Gable top $0.25 $0.10 $0.35
  Bi-metal $0.25 $0.10 $0.35





























1. For all types of ready-to-serve beverages
2. Amount shown does not include any applicable GST


On February 1, 2016, amended Regulations came into effect. The new Regulations simplify container categories. To make sure the BCP can continue to fund itself, there is a small net increase in container handling fees.

With new fees, the Beverage Container Program is self-sustaining and doesn't generate excess revenue, or need additional funding. Changes to container surcharges were needed because:

  • operational costs have increased and, in some years, have outstripped revenues.
  • operators must be fairly remunerated. Despite inflation, their handling fees have not changed since 2005.

Comparison of old and new fees

Beverage Container Program surcharges

Follow the surcharge

Follow the surcharge