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Alta. to charge deposit on milk cartons

Alberta consumers will start paying a refundable recycling deposit on all milk containers as of June 1 next year.

The province on Wednesday announced Canada’s first deposit-refund recycling program for milk cartons and other milk and dairy-based beverage containers, allowing residents to return all such containers to bottle depot locations for the deposit.

Milk containers will continue to be recycled through community recycling programs until the new program kicks in on June 1, 2009, the province said.

The new deposit on milk containers was announced at the same time as the first increase in over 20 years on the levies for all beverage containers sold in Alberta, the province said.

Currently, Alberta’s recycling deposits are charged at the rate of five cents for containers one litre and under, 10 cents for standard-sized beer bottles and cans, and 20 cents for containers over one litre.

Those rates will increase Nov. 1 this year to 10 cents for all containers with a volume of one litre or less (standard beer bottles and cans included) and 25 cents for all containers over one litre (large-size beer bottles and cans included). That increase will apply to all types of pop, juice, beer, wine and spirit containers that bottle depots already accept.

After June 1 next year, the same new deposits will be charged on milk cartons and other milk containers: 10 cents for all containers one litre and under, and 25 cents for containers over one litre.

The new rates and policy are part of the province’s “Too Good To Waste” strategy, for which the stated goal is to increase recycling rates to 85 per cent or higher from the current rate of 75 per cent.

The province estimates about two billion beverage containers are sold in Alberta each year. Of those, the government estimated, 500 million containers are not returned to bottle depots.

“The 85-per-cent return rate is going to require cooperation and partnerships with all the stakeholders,” said Ross Risvold, chair of the Beverage Container Management Board, in the province’s release.

Risvold said he hopes to set up “real partnerships” in which programs to increase return rates are jointly set up involving collection agents, the Alberta Bottle Depot Association and the BCMB.

“Every beverage container in this province can be recycled into new and useful products,” said Environment Minister Rob Renner in the same release. “Picture the plastic milk container in your fridge as a fleece jacket and the glass juice container as the insulation in your home.”

With these changes, “Alberta will have the most comprehensive beverage container recycling programs in North America, and will be the first to include all milk containers under the deposit system,” said Drayton Valley MLA Diana McQueen, Renner’s parliamentary assistant.

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