British Columbia | Coronavirus | Sustainability

BC amends recycling regulation changing product stewardship for packaging

June 29, 2020

The B.C. Government has amended the Recycling Regulation.

  1. Effective February 1, 2022, used beverage containers for milk, milk substitutes, rice milk, soya milk, flavoured milk, infant formulas, meal replacements or dietary supplements will no longer be obligated under Schedule 5 (the blue box program). These containers will be obligated under the Schedule 1 beverage container program operated by Encorp Pacific.
  2. Effective immediately, the minimum deposit was raised from 5 to 10 cents per beverage container on deposit. The previous section obligating a deposit of 20 cents on larger containers was struck. This would allow Encorp Pacific to harmonize the deposits on all beverage containers at some point in the future.
  3. Previously, you were required to refund beverage container deposits in cash.  In a change effective immediately, you must refund the beverage container by cash only where the customer makes that request. Refunds may be now made in other forms including store credits, to credit or debit cards or in another format agreeable to the customer and the entity refunding the deposit. Unstaffed facilities are no longer required to provide cash refunds which enables Encorp Express and Encorp Express and Go (automated) returns where the deposit is refunded to a customer’s account.
  4. Empty pesticide, gasoline and pharmacy product containers are now obligated under Schedule 2 of the Recycling Regulation. These containers were previously omitted from the regulation. RCC’s expectation is that the programs covering these products will amend their program plans and collect the used/empty containers for these products.
  5. Effective January 1, 2023, packaging-like products and single-use products are obligated under Schedule 5 (blue box) of the regulation.
    • Packaging-like products being obligated are items such as food containers, foil and wraps, bags, boxes and objects purchased by or supplied to consumers expressly for the purpose of protecting, containing or transporting commodities or products.  Health, hygiene or safety products that, by virtue of their anticipated use, could become unsafe or unsanitary to recycle are excluded.
    • Single-use products being obligated are items such as: straws and items used to stir beverages; utensils, plates, bowls and cups; and party supplies. Again health, hygiene or safety products that, by virtue of their anticipated use, could become unsafe or unsanitary to recycle are excluded.

Impacted stewardship agencies including Encorp Pacific and Recycle BC will both have to produce program plan amendments to make the amendments effective. RCC did strongly object to the obligation of containers for milk and milk substitutes within a mandatory return-to-retail program for health and safety reasons. RCC’s expectation is that, because packaging-like products and single-use items are by their nature more frequently discarded in public space, that the new obligation of these items will significantly increase the cost of the blue box regime.

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