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March 2007
Ontario recycles beer and wine glass containers 

With a population of over 11 million people, the Canadian province of Ontario has the bulk of its population in the urbanized southern region with a large number of isolated rural communities.

Ontario could be classified as a hybrid bottle bill jurisdiction since it currently has a deposit return system for almost two billion beer containers, but not on soft drinks and other categories of beverage products that are managed through municipal curbside collection programs.

Ontario’s hybrid recycling program was enhanced last September 10 when the provincial government announced that it would introduce a deposit return system for wines and liquor, as well as specialized beer products sold through the Liquor Board Control of Ontario (LCBO).

That deposit system went into effect on February 5 with LCBO sold wine, spirits and beer containers being returnable to the The Beer Store (TBS). The deposit fees range from $.10 to $.20 (Canadian).

Usman Valiante, a senior policy analyst with the Corporate Policy Group, said, “The objective of the program is to increase the overall recovery rate of LCBO packaging from about 65 percent to 85 percent while improving the recycling rate of what is collected from 30 percent to 85 percent. The issue today is that much of the LCBO glass collected in the blue box cannot be effectively recycled as it breaks, is color mixed and becomes contaminated.”

Currently the deposit fee for beer bottles in Ontario is $.10.

The LCBO, TBS, Vincor Canada (operator of The Wine Rack), Andrew Peller Ltd. (Vineyards Estate Wines), and other retailers in Ontario are all participating in the ‘Bag it back’ program.

Valiante says Ontario upgraded its system because:

  • Municipalities complained that collecting glass was too expensive and would often become contaminated and useless for recycling purposes.
  • Ontario wine producers pressed for a more comprehensive recycling system to increase environmental performance.
  • Glass container manufacturers, particularly OI Canada, complained of decreased quantities of recyclable glass available through municipal recycling programs and that the LCBO was pressuring its customers to switch from glass to aseptic cartons based on what it construes as specious environmental claims.

“What really drove OI was the fact that it isn’t getting any recyclable glass back from the Ontario waste stream and it is being forced to import glass from out of the province,” says Valiante. “In 2005 they brought over 60,000 metric tons of glass from Quebec and Michigan. The LCBO generates about 124,000 tons of glass for wines and spirits and a deposit system would bring 85 percent or more of that back for recycling.

The Beer Store has been asked to set up a collection system that will sort the glass by color and ensures that it is primarily used for value-added recycling purposes.

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