Without customers the system does not work

Alberta’s beverage container recycling system is one of the best in the world.  With a return rate over 86%, Albertans are returning over 2 billion containers a year to depots!  Thank you for your commitment to protecting Alberta’s environment and for the time you take out of your day to return beverage containers to a depot. 
Depots are regulated by the Beverage Container Management Board (BCMB). In permitting depots, the BCMB provides depots with operating criteria and processes that are mandatory.  The BCMB inspects depots annually and administers numerous compliance programs to ensure that convenient, accessible and quality service is provided to the public.
That being said, Depot have rules that they must follow when accepting beverage containers from the public.  Depots can accept most but not all beverage containers. Read below to find out why. 

Contact the BCMB

Contact the BCMB with any questions or concerns you may have. 

Tel:    1.888.424.7671   OR   780.424.3193

Email:   info@bcmb.ab.ca 

Contact the BCMB

Requirements for depots when accepting containers


1.     Depots can ONLY accept registered beverage containers. What is a registered beverage container?

Depots have a tough job. They handle thousands of containers per day, made up of many different types of materials and are only allowed to accept registered beverage containers.  What does this mean?  When a manufacturer wants to sell a beverage in Alberta, they must receive prior approval by the BCMB. The BCMB approves what the container is made of for purposes of recycling and ensures that the manufacturer pays into the system, a deposit on each container being sold.  That deposit partially funds the system and allows the depot to pay you back the deposit/refund on each container. 

2.     What does a depot have to do when they are not sure if a beverage container is registered in Alberta? 

Depots are typically very familiar with beverage containers that are and are not registered. However, new products or products that they have never seen before, do come into their depots. When this happens, those depots are required to confirm the registration of those beverage containers using the BCMB’s  online Registration Database.  If the container cannot be confirmed as registered, depots cannot accept them or pay a refund for that container.  Click the below link to access the Registration Database.

Depots want to provide great customer service and accept all beverage containers, but under law (Regulation) Depots are prohibited from accepting or providing a refund for:

  • Beverage containers purchased outside of Alberta, or;
  • Beverage container’s not registered in Alberta.

The penalty for not complying is a fine of up to $50,000 (for an individual) or $500,000 (for a corporation) as per the Beverage Container Recycling Regulation 100/97.

3.    The depot took my beverage container but did not pay me a refund for it.

If a Depot does accept an unregistered beverage container from you, it is for purposes of recycling ONLY. No refund can be paid on that container.  That depot will package that container separately and return it to the Collection System Agent for recycling.  Remember: Depots are agents for recycling! Their goal is to protect the environment and keep beverage containers out of landfills. 

4.    The depot will not pay me a refund for my beverage container. What can I do?

Depots can only pay refunds for beverage containers that are registered. If the depot cannot verify registration, you can either leave the container with the depot for recycling or you can take the container home with you.   

You can also use the BCMB’s public online Registration Database to verify the registration of the container yourself. 

5.     I paid a deposit on a beverage container, but the depot is telling me that the container is not registered.

If you believe you paid a deposit on a beverage container that is not registered, please contact the BCMB.  You will need to provide us with the following: 

  • Type of beverage container: size, flavour, brand, UPC (if available)
  • Location that you purchased it from
  • Receipt if available
  • Photo if available

The BCMB will work to resolve the issue and have the manufacturer register the beverage or remove it from stores in Alberta. 

6.     Why can’t a depot accept beverage containers that have not been sold in Alberta?

When a manufacturer is approved to sell a ready-to-serve beverage in Alberta, they pay into the system, the refundable deposit.  When a customer returns that container to a depot, that refund amount is available to pay you and in turn, the depot is paid back the refund from the manufacturer’s collection system agent or service provider.  If the beverage container is brought in from out of province, the manufacturer has not paid a deposit/refund on that container into the Alberta system and therefore the system is using money to fund un-registered containers.   

7.     Why can’t a depot accept other recyclable products (i.e. soup containers, olive oil, concentrates, pickle jars, windshield washer fluid) that look and feel similar to beverage containers?

The depot network is funded by beverage manufacturers and by consumers who buy beverage containers.  The beverage container recycling system in Alberta is regulated under the Beverage Container Recycling Regulation and that Regulation considers only the recycling structure and processes for ready-to-serve beverage containers.  Some depots do offer additional services, such as recycling collection, but there is no refund attached to these containers. 

8.     A depot has paid me a refund for non-beverage containers in the past or is still paying me for them. 

The beverage container recycling system cannot pay a refund for non-beverage containers.  Please contact the BCMB to discuss this issue further. 

BCMB Mandate - to regulate and enhance a leading beverage container system that protects Alberta’s environment.