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Lower Mainland binners look forward to expansion of Return-it program

Last Updated Sep 13, 2020 at 11:38 pm PDT

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Program is set to provide refunds for people bringing milk containers to depots

Binners have been lobbying for an expansion of the program

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Among the changes announced by the BC government this weekend to improve the rates of recycling in the province, is expansion of the Return-it program.

Currently, a variety of alcohol and non-alcohol beverage containers can be taken to a depot for a refund. That list is about to also include milk and milk alternative containers.

When the change will happen has not been announced, but the environment minister expects the expansion to occur before February 2022.

Landon Hoyt who is with the Binners Project, which represents people who pick through our waste to bring refundables back to depots, says expanding what can be returned has been something the group has been lobbying for.

“Binners have been collecting recyclable containers for years and this will be just another type of container included in the refund system. This is what binners have been asking for, and we’ve been supporting them and trying to amplify their voices.”

The ability to collect milk containers has some distinct advantages for binners.

“It will increase their earnings. Milk containers are often lighter containers than glass and some plastic they pick up, so it will be easier for them to carry in carts and things,” explains Hoyt.

How much more binners could earn is something Hoyt can’t really estimate, but there are stats to suggest how much bottle-returning British Columbians practice right now.

“I would imagine that given there is a 78 per cent return rate for current refundables, there will be roughly a 78 per cent return rate for of milk containers as well.”

Hoyt says part of the mission of the Binners Project is to continue lobbying for even more items to be refunded. Once a year the organization stages the “coffee cup revolution” where they set up a depot at Victory Square to invite binners to return used coffee cups for refunds. He says the single-use items would be a natural move next time the system gets expanded.

“Coffee cups would be an easy one. I would say there are also food containers that we get from take-out places, depending on the material those would be an easy one I’d say.”

Saturday’s announcement included a variety of other initiatives to attempt to keep plastics off of beaches and out of landfills.

The province, for one, has approved local bylaws banning single-use plastics in five communities as it drafts a regulation allowing other local governments to create their own policies without the need for provincial approval.


With files from the Canadian Press