Debate: Recycling efforts are stepping up their game by including milk containers

Reduce, reuse, recycle, and maybe earn some cash along the way



Recycling refund deposits have been a thing for quite some time now, and it’s amazing how many people never actually use this to their advantage. 

The little bit of cash you might get back every few months pays off for whatever you want to spend it on. For the longest time, this money-making gig could be useful for things like steel, aluminum cans, juice cartons, and alcoholic containers, to name a few. But one of the many things left out of this was milk cartons. 

The plastic and fibre-based containers that would have been thrown out otherwise are now making their debut on the list of items that people can return for recycling deposits. At the time of purchase, milk cartons will have a 10 cent jump price, which is refundable when dropping them off at a Return-It depot facility. 

The provincial government published a news release that laid out the plan for the deposits. 

“As of Feb. 1, 2022, people in B.C. will be able to return milk and milk-substitute beverage containers for a refund to reduce waste as part of the Province’s CleanBC Plastics Action Plan,” reads the release. 

While citizens who don’t recycle or use these deposit systems might be upset by the 10 cents jump in price for the container at the time of purchase from now on, we must look at this from an environmentally sustainable outlook. 

The CleanBC Plastics Action Plan plans to “prevent plastic waste, keep more waste out of landfills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a cleaner, better future.” 

This is particularly useful for spaces that do not have residential recycling bins such as schools and hospitals where all recycling goes in one container. Being able to sort through specific materials and placing them in their proper homes for them to be reused effectively is key here. 

Containers must be cleaned and rinsed before being accepted into your local deposit-refund program and should not be placed in residential blue bins. 

This might seem like a hassle to people who don’t use the deposits to recycle materials, especially when the rules for the blue bins are still in check for containers like “infant formula, meal replacement/dietary supplements, coffee cream, whipping cream, buttermilk or drinkable yogurt, through curbside, multi-family or depot services.” These are not eligible for the refund programs, and the milk containers are a very new addition. 

British Columbia has been using these deposits for years, and it has helped pay off with aspects of longer-term environmental sustainability. It was just a matter of time before milk containers would be added to the mix. 

Though this may annoy residents who don’t use the system, it should push them to take the initiative and visit their local deposits occasionally. Sure, it might seem a bit time-consuming at the beginning, but with the cash you get from a visit on top of the environmental benefits you would be contributing to, overall, it seems worth the time and effort. 

So, start saving those containers to save some money!