The Regional District of Nanaimo is supporting B.C. Product Stewardship Council’s call to improve the beverage container recovery rate in the province.
According to a report by the non-profit Ocean Legacy Foundation, from 2013 to 2017, more than 1.6 billion beverage containers were not returned to B.C.’s deposit refund system and “could be coating B.C.’s shorelines or floating in ocean currents.”
The foundation, which focuses on plastic wastes in the ocean, has been urging the government to adopt measures to ensure a higher number of beverage containers are recovered.
The council, created under the auspices of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, made a similar plea to the Ministry of the Environment.
The RDN’s Solid Waste Management Select Committee recommended the board send a letter to the Ministry of Environment advocating the council’s position to improve beverage container recovery rate. Staff was also directed to provide updates to the RDN board on the new federal government initiative to reduce plastic pollution.
In British Columbia, beverage containers are collected through Return-It BC and BC Brewers’ Recycled Container Collection Council.
Return-It BC’s recovery rate of beverage container has decreased from 78 per cent in 2016 to 75.8 per cent in 2017 due to snowy and icy conditions the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island experienced that year.
However, Return-It BC conducts a benchmark research annually to better understand the scale and behaviour of those who throw refundable beverage containers in the garbage. In its 2017 study, out of 5,500 respondents on its online survey, 56 per cent indicated that they throw away refundable containers, which totals approximately 295 million. Most were discarded outside the home due to lack of convenience. To address this, Return-It BC has come up with better collection systems in public spaces, streetscapes, large venues and events to prevent containers ending up in the landfill.
BRCC has a 91 per cent recovery rate for beer bottles and cans. It is one of the highest return rates for beer in North America.
The report from the Ocean Legacy Foundation and the annual report from Return-It highlight gaps in current collection of bottles in British Columbia where improvements can be made.
The RDN has supported advocacy and education that promotes waste diversion, key elements of the it’s solid waste management plan. It has budgeted for carrying out initiatives that include achieving 90 per cent waste diversion targets.