FAQs

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Depot Owners, please click here.

  • What is the Beverage Container Management Board?
The Beverage Container Management Board (BCMB) is responsible for the collection and recycling of beverage containers throughout Alberta. It is a not-for-profit association consisting of representatives of Alberta beverage manufacturers, container depots and the public (environmental organizations, municipalities and interested citizens). The BCMB works to ensure that Albertans have access to a convenient and cost-effective system for recycling used beverage containers.
  • Is the BCMB a government agency?
No. The BCMB is a Delegated Administrative Organization (DAO), an arm’s length organization that has delegated government authority under the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development to impose requirements on recycling program stakeholders. DAOs are unique - a range of stakeholders are encouraged to participate, including industry, government and the public. These parties are primarily involved in program stewardship through appointments to the Board of Directors.
  • How is the BCMB structured?
The BCMB is a management board with stakeholder interests. The governance structure of the BCMB consists of a 16-member Board of Directors composed of an equal number (five each) of members from beverage manufacturers, the depot industry, and the public, as well as one non-voting representative from Alberta Environment and Water.
  • Is the BCMB funded by government?
No. The Government of Alberta does not supply or receive any funding for or from the operation of the beverage container recycling system. Depot operators and beverage manufacturers fund the administrative costs of the BCMB through a levy based on beverage container returns. Manufacturers pay a handling commission to the depots for each of their containers received. In return, the depot operators sort the containers into different groups. The process of setting the handling commission rate is led by the BCMB. It is the only source of income for bottle depots.
  • What is the relationship between the BCMB, the Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation (ABCRC), the Alberta Beer Container Corporation (ABCC) and the Alberta Bottle Depot Association (ABDA)?
The BCMB oversees the beverage container recycling system and is the system regulator. The ABCRC is the collection system agent and is approved by the BCMB while the ABCC is a collection system provider. The ABDA represents bottle depot owners in Alberta. All four organizations work in partnership to ensure the collection and processing of used beverage containers in the province.
  • Why is there a deposit on beverages sold in Alberta?
The deposit refund system has been in place for over 36 years in Alberta. This approach is consistent with Alberta’s waste management strategy to encourage Albertans to take responsibility for resource conservation and waste minimization.
  • What are the deposit/refund amounts for beverage containers?
When you return beverage containers to a bottle depot in Alberta, you will receive a refund of the deposit you initially paid when you purchased the product from a retailer. The deposit/refund amount for containers 1 litre or less is 10 cents and for containers greater than 1 litre the deposit/refund is 25 cents.
  • What is a container recycling fee (CRF) and why is it charged?
Beyond your fully refundable deposit, a container recycling fee or environmental levy may be applied at the point of purchase to cover the net costs in recycling beverage containers. The fee is required to fund that portion of system operations costs (collection, transportation and marketing) not covered by material revenues (i.e., the ‘salvage value’ of the containers) and unredeemed deposits. The CRFs are non-refundable and based on a not-for-profit formula. They range from no charge to up to 8 cents per container. The fee is a few pennies on your grocery bill and helps keep tonnes of waste from ending up in Alberta landfills.
  • Aren’t the fees just another government tax?
No. None of the Container Recycling Fee goes to any level of government. The CRF helps to pay a part of the cost of recycling containers.
  • What types of beverage containers are refundable?
All “ready-to-serve” beverage containers sold in Alberta are part of the collection system. There are 120,000 beverage containers registered in the province, including: plastic drink bottles and jugs, aluminum cans, polycoat containers, glass bottles and metal cans. If you aren’t sure if a container can be returned for a refund, check with your bottle depot or go to www.bcmb.ab.ca
  • Can I return a concentrate mix container to a bottle depot for a refund?
No. Deposits aren’t charged on concentrate mixes. They are not considered “ready-to-serve” as they need to be mixed prior to consumption.
  • Where do containers go?
Each beverage container material type has unique processes and energy requirements for both manufacturing and recycling. The amount of energy saved in recycling varies by material type. For example, recycling aluminum requires just 5% of the energy used to create the original products from virgin material, while plastic recycling requires 30% and glass around 70%. Some of the commercially useful products that come from Alberta’s recycled beverage containers include: new containers, fleece jackets, fibreglass insulation, cardboard boxes and construction re-bar.
  • How do I find a depot near me?
To find the depot nearest you, visit www.bcmb.ab.ca for a list of over 200 depots in Alberta and their locations.
  • What should I know before I visit a depot to ensure my return experience is a positive one?
  • Ensure your containers are empty
  • Give the containers a quick rinse, especially milk containers
  • Leave tabs and labels on
  • Flatten milk containers and jugs but do not crush other containers like cans and plastic bottles
  • Confirm hours of operation at your local depot.
  • Saturday is usually the busiest day.
  • You can pre-sort and count your containers. Depots will gladly do it for you, but if you separate containers by size (0-1L and over 1L) and type (i.e. glass, metal, plastic, juice boxes) before you head to the depot, it will mean a faster return.
  • Please take home your boxes and bags for reuse – do not throw them in the garbage.
  • Can I squash milk containers so they take up less space before I take them to a bottle depot?
Yes, you may squash milk containers so they take up less space in your recycling bags or bins, but leave the label on the container so it is still recognizable to bottle depot staff as a registered milk container.
  • If I have a large volume of containers, will depots come and pick them up for me?
If you operate a business that produces a large volume of beverage containers, check with your local depot to see if they or a charitable partner offer a commercial pickup service.
  • What if I want to return my beverage containers to a depot for environmental reasons, not for the refund?
Most depots have a collection bin for donated containers and the refund amounts for those containers are donated to a charity of the depot’s choice. Depots also work with community groups and local organizations who want to host bottle drives. If you are interested in donating your containers, setting up a donation program or holding a bottle drive, contact your local depot.
  • What do I do if I do not feel I received an accurate refund on my recent visit to a bottle depot?
There are certain steps that can be taken in the event that you feel you have not received an accurate refund before you accept payment from the bottle depot.
  1. Ask for a recount of your containers. Depots have two ways of recounting your containers –either by placing your containers back in the sorting station for a recount or by reviewing camera footage of the count.
  2. If you are still not satisfied with the count and have pre-counted your beverage containers at a rate of $0.10 for containers under 1 litre and $0.25 for containers over 1 Litre, contact the BCMB prior to taking payment.
If you feel you have not received an accurate refund from a bottle depot, contact the BCMB at 1-888-424-7671 and ask to speak with a Compliance Officer. The Compliance Officer will discuss the issue with you and work with the bottle depot to resolve the problem.
  • What is a mystery shopper audit?
All Alberta bottle depots are part of our Mystery Shopper program. A mystery shopper audit is a way for the BCMB to ensure that depots are providing accurate refunds to consumers. A “mystery shopper” will return bottles to a depot. They will then report to the BCMB and the depot on the refund they received, and whether the refund was correctly calculated and paid by the depot. Depots are promptly advised of the results of mystery shopper audits.
  • Can I redeem beverage containers I purchased outside Alberta?
No, only containers that have been purchased in Alberta and charged a deposit can be refunded at bottle depots. Alternatively, out-of-province containers can be taken to a depot to be recycled but no deposit will be paid.
  • How do bottle depots get paid?
Bottle depots are paid by the manufacturer or the collection system agent. Depots are reimbursed for each container they have collected at a rate of:
  • 10 cents per container one litre or less
  • 25 cents per container over one litre
Depots are also paid a handling commission (see BCMB Administrative Bylaw for current handling commission rates).
  • What is the handling commission?
The handling commission is a fee paid to depots by manufacturers or collection system agents to reimburse the depots for the expenses related to collecting and handling containers.