Deposit Return in the Blue Box – Depot Intervention

Quinte Waste Solutions (QWS) operates a drop off depot for blue box materials at their MRF and separates deposit return

As the summer sun starts to shine, people travel to get away from it all and enjoy the company of their friends and family.  The beers, coolers, and fermented grapes many consume come in containers that should head back to deposit return locations, but inevitably some of these lost souls end up in blue boxes at the curb or depot drop-offs.

At depots, staff have the opportunity to sort out these containers from other blue box materials.  The benefits of doing this are obvious when considering the glass bottles, which:

  • When transported, often break:
    • Causing safety issues for personnel, and
    • Adding wear and tear to collection and processing equipment
  • In larger sizes, fill up limited collection space (at the curb and in the truck)
  • Have end markets that are not strong, meaning municipalities are often in the position of paying to divert this material to a mill for recycling

Is there an alternative? 

When there’s enough for a full pick-up truck load, QWS staff take it in.

Promotion and education is the first choice. Deposit containers have no business in the blue box so it makes sense to remind residents and cottagers several times a season not to put them there.

Additionally, enforcement by way of leaving the material in the box should also be high on the action list, after all, there is a viable alternative to placing it in the blue box and rejection may be the necessary nudge to get people to do the right thing.

Providing space for deposit return material at your landfill, depot or even MRF gives you another  opportunity to minimize these issues.  Two popular ways of getting deposit material back to The Beer Store, include:

  • Coordinating with local service groups and/or youth sports teams fundraisers
  • Staff return the containers directly (check out the example from Quinte)

Both methods work in diverting this material to its appropriate home and provide benefits to the municipality.

Annually QWS adds back approximately $400 to general revenue from 5-6 trips (approximately $75).  Considering each trip (load up, delivery, waiting at the beer store, etc.) takes an hour less, the whole process is effectively cost neutral.

Key Take-away

The current deposit return program is successful, however the reality is that some of this material will still end up in Blue Box programs across the province.  There are options to manage this material, which may help improve the overall performance of your program.

Contact CIF Staff

CIF staff is always ready to help. We encourage you to contact any member of the team to discuss your issues and questions.