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‘It’s not a level playing field’: PG Return-It Centre forced to end beer pilot program

Depot calling on B.C.'s Ministry of Environment to step in
PG Recycling & Return-It Depot. / Facebook

The PG Recycling and Return-It Centre says it has been forced to end its Beer Pilot Program.

As of Monday (Jan. 4), the centre has rolled back the refund price of beer bottles and beer cans to five cents per unit or 90 cents per dozen.

In a statement posted to its Facebook page, the Return-It Centre says representatives of the major brewers, including Labatt Breweries Ltd., Molson Coors Canada and Sleeman Brewing, have not issued a license to the depot for handling beer and alcohol cans for recycling.

The Centre says, as a result, it and over 90 other depots across B.C. are not being paid to manage the containers and can’t provide a full refund.

“So from our end of things if we paid 10 cents per can we would actually lose money taking beer,” says manager Ken Ziemer to PrinceGeorgeMatters.

“For those who want to get the full price on everything that they recycle it causes them to have to search around for different places to go to recycle.”

PG Recycle and Return-It says it wants to continue the Beer Pilot Program and has raised this issue with the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

It adds it does not believe this approach by representatives of the major brewers is fair to either depots or consumers and is in contravention to the spirit and intent behind the recycling.

“B.C. is the only western Canada [province] where they can pick and choose where they want to give a contract because of that it is not a level playing field for everyone,” says Ziemer.

This means that B.C. is the only jurisdiction in western Canada where customers are asked to sort their aluminum containers (non-alcohol and alcohol) and are not able to receive a full refund at all locations.

“When we built this building eight years ago we wanted to take on as many programs as we could so we could stop sending people all over town because it is not good for the environment to have people driving all over town to recycle a carload of stuff when you can do it all in one spot.”

During the past six months while it participated in the aluminum can pilot, PG Return-It says it received nothing but positive feedback from customers who preferred being able to recycle all their aluminum cans in one location with a full deposit refund.

PG Return-It is asking anyone interested to support its communication with the Ministry of Environment by directing comments or feedback directly to the ministry.

Ziemer says he doesn’t see anything changing until the government steps in.

“We have reached out many times over the years but the key is having the general public reach out,” adds Ziemer. “Because that is going to create the drive for them to say ‘hey it is the general public that wants it to happen.’”