Every day, thousands of Ontario consumers play a major role in Canada’s largest beverage container recycling program, ensuring that glass bottles are re-used and millions of cans and other bottles are recycled rather than sent to landfill. But this isn’t the Blue Box I’m talking about – it’s The Beer Store’s deposit-return program for taking back beer containers (and, since 2007, wine and spirit containers under the Ontario Deposit Return Program).
This fact might come as a surprise to many readers. The Beer Store’s deposit-return program for beer containers is so well-known to Ontario residents and so well-entrenched that most Ontario consumers don’t stop to consider what actually happens to their bottles and cans after they’ve returned them. In celebrating its 85th birthday as a retailer (and the 85th birthday of the deposit-return program), The Beer Store faced the dilemma: how do you educate consumers about a program they’re already familiar with?
The Beer Store’s solution has been to start with the basics. That’s why The Beer Store’s recently released annual stewardship report is packed full of facts about its voluntary, industry-funded deposit-return system – 85 facts, in fact, for the 85 years it has been in operation.
For example, did you know that taking back empties to The Beer Store is older than sliced bread? Or, that most beer bottles are actually re-used an average of 15 times? How about the fact that 94% of the almost 2 billion beer containers sold in Ontario in 2011-2012 were recovered by The Beer Store and either refilled or recycled?
“Environmental leadership is one of The Beer Store’s core values; we were green before green was cool,” says Ted Moroz, President of The Beer Store. “We know most Ontarians are faithful participants in our deposit-return program. With this year’s report, we wanted to let Ontarians know more about the program and the significant environmental results The Beer Store has been achieving, with their participation, over these 85 years.”
Perhaps the only Ontario retailer that takes back all the packaging it sells (including plastic bags and cardboard cases), The Beer Store has also been taking back wine and spirit containers since 2007 through a partnership with the Ontario government called the Ontario Deposit Return Program – or “Bag It Back.” As a result, the recovery of wine and spirit containers has gone from about 55% in 2006 (when they went in the Blue Box) to 81% in 2011-2012. In total, The Beer Store now recovers over 2.1 billion alcohol bottles, cans and kegs each year.