Skip to content

There’s so much to learn when you first move to Canada and settle in British Columbia. Even after you’ve moved into your new home, you’ll need to figure out how to set up your utilities, where to get the best groceries, and work out how to get around your new neighbourhood.

Another important task is figuring out routines around garbage and recycling. In Canada, recycling is a vital part of domestic life.

The vast majority of Canadian households recycle. Recycling is vital to Canada’s environment, because it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and helps to conserve natural resources like water, lumber, and power. For example, it takes 95% less energy to make a can from recycled aluminum than it does to make one from new materials.

In Canada, we’re lucky to have well-preserved natural environments. It’s critical to protect these assets. To ensure you’re doing your part to safeguard Canada’s and B.C.’s beautiful natural resources, you should learn as much as you can about your local beverage recycling program. It also puts money back in your pocket — a nice bonus at a time when the rising cost of living is on many people’s minds.

British Columbia’s beverage recycling program: Return-It

Every Canadian province has developed its own rules and regulations about recycling beverage containers.

Return-It is B.C.’s federally incorporated, not-for-profit program for beverage container recycling. This program helps to develop, manage, and improve systems that can recover used beverage containers. From there, the team at Return-It ensures that these beverage containers are appropriately recycled, keeping them out of a landfill or incinerator.

This program also offers individuals and families in BC financial incentives to help them improve their recycling habits. For every ready-to-drink beverage container you purchase (no matter the type or size), you’ll pay a 10-cent deposit. If you bring this beverage container back to any Return-It location in BC, this deposit will be refunded.

Since there are lots of Return-It locations around BC, it’s easy to find a drop-off location, even if you live in a rural area.

How Return-It works

Return-It Depot – Over the counter returns

Over-the-counter returning is the traditional method for returning your empty beverage containers for deposit refund. When you return your beverage containers over-the-counter at a Return-It depot location, you receive your refund in cash right away.

To return your refundable beverage containers over the counter, bring them to any Return-It Depot location, use the provided trays to sort your beverages by container type (like aluminum cans, plastic bottles etc.), and bring your trays to the depot cashier to be counted. Finally, receive your deposit refunds in cash and you are good to go.

Return-It Express

Recycling your beverage containers is fast, simple, and easy with Return-It’s Express program. Here’s how it works:

  1. First, you’ll need to set up an online Express account and register your phone number with Return-It. An online account is required to receive reimbursement for your beverage containers.
  2. After you’ve registered your phone number and set up your online Express account, you can start collecting your empty beverages. Make sure to keep the caps on and push straws in when you’re collecting your beverage containers for recycling! As well, please do not crush or flatten them. Depot staff need to look at the label and barcode to determine if they were bought in B.C.If they are crushed too much, depots might not be able to refund them.
  3. Put your recyclables into transparent plastic recycling or trash bags. As long as the bag is clear and has a capacity of under 90L, you can use it with the Express system. To find out what brands and bags can be used, visit this page.
  4. Label your bags with a Return-It label. These can be printed out at Express kiosks.
  5. Drop your bag off at an Express location, or an Express & GO. You’ll receive the credit from your beverage container deposits within 10 business days. You can see the record of each transaction in your online account.

Return-It Express & GO

What’s Express & GO? Express & GO is a pilot project that is set to revolutionize the recycling experience in B.C. Each Express & GO location is solar-powered and accessible to B.C. residents for extended hours, so they can drop off bags of recycling whenever is convenient for them.

When at the Express & GO location, print your labels at the bag label kiosk. Bag label kiosks are located at nearby locations like coffee shops or grocery stores. Place your unsorted containers in a clear or transparent plastic bag and tag your bags, one tag per bag. At the Express and GO station, text your Express & Go Passcode to 778-400-5253, receive your one-time PIN to open the door, drop off your bags, and GO! We’ll sort and count your containers and credit your Express account with your deposit refund.

Learn more about recycling beverages in B.C. with Return-It

While recycling is a great habit to get into, Return-It takes it one step further by giving B.C. residents direct refunds when they pack up and send in their beverage containers for recycling.

Additionally, you can bring in end-of-life electronics, small appliances, batteries, and lighting products to some Return-It locations, making it easy to get rid of these items that tend to hang around well past their useful life.

To learn more about what products can be recycled or the process for dropping off beverages in your neighbourhood.

Then, once you’re ready, sign up for your own Express account here.

Citation "Learn the basics of beverage container recycling in B.C. and save money with Return-It." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation