The full deposit refund pilot program for alumnium cans and beer bottles that started in July last year, has been discontinued and the Return-It Bottle Depot in Burns Lake will now be able to give only eight cents back.
The Burns Lake Return-It depot gave full deposits for most things except the beer bottles and cans as per their contract with Brewers’ Distributor Ltd. (BDL) however, Chris Beach, the former Burns Lake mayor and current depot owner had told Lakes District News in July last year, that Encorp Pacific had agreed to accept beer cans and some beer bottles for a full deposit as part of an alumnium can pilot program.
However, the six-month pilot program has received no approval for continuation from the Ministry of Environment and the Burns Lake bottle depot, along with 90 other depots across B.C. will no longer be able to provide the full deposit of 10 cents to customers.
Starting Jan. 4, the Burns Lake Return-It Bottle Depot has been able to offer only eight cents deposit per can instead of 10 cents and the customers also have to separate their cans.
“It’s not just a money issue but also that people have to separate their non-alcohol and alcohol alumnium cans; so it is a massive hassle for the public and the depot staff,” said Beach.
Encorp Pacific President & CEO, Allen Langdon spoke about the pilot program and said it was still a waiting game.
“From our perspective, we proposed making this permanent as part of the report we submitted back in October, and so, while we had hoped that it would get approved by the end of the year, it was highly unlikely to happen by Jan. 1,” he said.
While Langdon didn’t have any specifics on the success of the pilot program on a local level, he maintained that his organization believed in fairness and ensuring customer convenience.
“For us, our main concern is always providing the greatest convenience to consumers,” he said, adding that if the program is not approved, depending on whether the individual depots have a contract with the beer companies for a full deposit or not, the customers would be affected accordingly. “At the very least, they will have to sort their cans,” added Langdon.
Before the pilot program in July, a lot of Burns Lake residents had to either drive up to Fraser Lake or Prince George to get the full price on their beer can and beer bottle returns. A limited number of cans and bottles were also accepted at the local BC Liquor Store up until the pandemic. Once the pandemic hit however, they stopped taking those returns as well and customers suddenly had no where to go for a full price.
“People always assume that the bottle depot owners are ripping people off but it is the major brewing companies like BDL, Molson Coors Canada and Sleeman Brewing,” said Beach.
“We are trying to get the NDP government to carry through and make sure that BDL pays the 10 cents,” added Beach. To support the depot’s communication to the ministry, the depot is asking customers to write to the Ministry of Enviornment to resolve this issue.