Ontario Beer Container Recycling Rate Hits 92%

Ontario Beer Container Recycling Rate Hits 92%

The Beer Store - CC license by Flickr user haunted by Leonard Cohen

A deposit on all alcohol containers and easy access to recycling are being credited for pushing Ontario's recycling rate for beer, wine and spirit containers up to 92 percent.

The Beer Store, a province-wide chain funded by brewers that acts as the de facto alcohol sales and container recycling system, collected 2.1 billion bottles, cans and kegs between May 2009 and April 2010.

The bulk of containers collected were refillable, eliminating the need to create 1.2 billion bottles, The Beer Store says in its annual packaging recycling report, Responsible Stewardship

The figures include containers collected through The Beer Store's deposit system and the Ontario Deposit Return Program, which is for wine and spirits not sold by The Beer Store, though its locations collect containers for it.

All in all, the containers collected through the two systems add up to 520,000 tonnes of material. Sixty-two percent of the containers were refillable bottles, which get reused 12-15 times. Use of refillable from 2009-2010 avoided 120,318 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and 2.2 million gigajoules of energy use.

Among the containers with the most sales, the highest recycling rate was claimed by refillable glass bottles, with a 99.9 percent rate. Next was non-refillable glass, at 91 percent, followed by aluminum cans at 82 percent. All of the figures rose between one and three percentage points since 2009. Kegs, whose sales were much lower than individual containers, had a 101 percent recycling rate.

In its report, The Beer Store attributes the high recycling rates to convenience (86 percent of Ontarians of legal drinking age are a 5-minute drive or less from a store that takes recyclables), efficient service at stores and the 10-20 cent deposit that comes with each bottle or can.

Brewers collectively fund The Beer Store, and it has charged deposits on containers since its founding in 1927; the deposits are not required by law. The Beer Store pays a deposit to brewers, then charges a deposit to customers. When customers return bottles and cans, they get their deposit back, and then The Beer Store gets back the deposit it paid to the brewers.

The Ontario Deposit Return Program was launched in 2007, applying a deposit to all alcohol containers not already covered by The Beer Store.

Deposit programs in the U.S. have also resulted in higher recycling rates. While the overall recycling rate for glass in the U.S. is 28 percent, the average glass recycling rate for states with deposit laws is 63 percent, and California clocks in with an 80 percent glass rate.

The overall recycling rate is the states is 33 percent, much lower than states with deposits like Iowa (overall 93 percent), Michigan (96.9 percent) and California (82 percent).

The Beer Store - CC license by Flickr user haunted by Leonard Cohen