crushed cans

Beverage Container Program

FAQ - Beverage Container Program

How do I prepare my containers for recycling?

How to prepare your containers for recycling

What is not included?

  • Containers for infant formula
  • Containers for liquid milk products smaller than 30 ml
  • Powdered milk
  • Containers sold empty
  • Open containers filled with a drink when sold

Do I have to wash the milk containers first?

YES!  You should wash the milk jugs and cartons before taking them to the bottle depot. Any milk containers with a strong odour, or containing residual materials, will be rejected by the depot operator for public health and sanitation reasons. You will not receive a refund for contaminated containers.

Should I squash the milk containers?

Yes, please squash the milk jugs and cartons so they take up less space. This will not affect your ability to obtain a refund at the depot.

What is a depot?

A depot is a licensed place in a community that receives empty beverage containers from consumers and pays the consumers the refundable deposit. Each depot sends their containers to an assigned regional processing centre.

What is a processing centre?

Located in Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik, a processing centre:

  • is a licenced place that takes empty beverage containers from assigned depots in their region
  • processes the containers and sends them to reuse and recycling markets

Is it expensive to transport beverage containers south?

Transportation is organized to be as efficient, economical and environmentally friendly as possible. Depending on the community and time of year, beverage containers are transported by road, winter road or barge.

The following factors are considered when organizing transportation:

  • Backhauls are economical. Transport bringing products to communities could take beverage containers out.
  • Full loads are cheaper than half loads.
  • One kind of material for each truckload and one market stop is cheaper than multiple materials and stops.
  • Materials should be packaged so they are easy to load and unload.

What about communities without depots?

The Government of the Northwest Territories has committed to making sure temporary or “satellite” depots are operated in communities without a local depot operator. This helps make sure all residents can return empty beverage containers and obtain their refundable deposit in their own community.

Who pays for the Beverage Container Program?

Money raised through the program goes into the Environment Fund, a special purpose fund set up under the Waste Reduction and Recovery Act. This fund is used to cover program expenses and improve waste reduction and recovery programs.

A fully refundable deposit is applied to each beverage container sold in the NWT. The refundable deposit is returned to the consumer when the beverage container is returned to a community depot.

A non-refundable handling fee is also applied to each beverage container. The fee varies according to the size and type of beverage container. These fees are based on the estimated costs to collect, process and transport beverage containers and to administer the program.

Beverage container deposits not claimed for refund are factored into calculations to set container surcharges, and also go toward covering program costs and improvements. 

Where can I get more information?

For more information, or if you have comments about the Waste Reduction and Recovery Act, the Beverage Container Regulations or the Beverage Container Program, please contact the Recycling Program Coordinator.