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5 reasons to return alcohol containers to The Beer Store

A Beer Store employee scans an assortment of bottles and cans that a customer has brought back for a deposit refund.

We’re champs at reusing and recycling alcohol containers and packaging. Here’s why you should bring it to us, instead of tossing it in your household recycling

We’re a proud part of the circular economy, thanks to you. As a matter of fact, we’re one of Ontario’s recycling and reuse powerhouses.

In early 2022, we celebrated the recovery of our five billionth alcohol container under the Ontario Deposit Return Program (ODRP)! Annually, we recover an average of 1.8 billion containers under both our deposit return programs. So when we say we’re passionate about creating a greener Ontario, we mean it.

Through our deposit and return program, and our partnership with the ODRP, we’re able to take back any alcohol container sold in Ontario. Even if you didn’t buy it from us, we’ll accept it.

And that’s not all we’ll take off your hands. Our in-store recycling program accepts all sorts of alcohol packaging materials. You can bring us everything: beer bottle caps, can wraps, wine boxes and bladders, and more.

Here are five smart reasons to bring your empties to us, instead of tossing them in your municipal household recycling.

  • You’ll get back your deposit

    This is the fun part. When you buy brews at The Beer Store, you pay a deposit on each container you purchase. And when you return your empties, we give you back that deposit, so you can put your hard-earned cash back in your pocket.

    Even better, The Beer Store will return your deposit on alcohol containers you bought at other stores in Ontario. This includes any spirit, cooler or wine container larger than 100 mL and any beer container larger than 100 mL. We’ll even take brands that we don’t sell.

    We also accept cans and bottles from one of today’s hottest selling categories: non-alcoholic beer. If the brand you’re returning is on our inventory list, we’ll give you back your deposit. If we don’t carry it, you won’t get the cash, but we’ll be happy to take the empties off your hands and get them ready for reuse or recycling.

    Okay, so how much money are we talking about? Here’s how much you pay for deposits, which are refunded when you bring back your empties:

    • 10 cents — Containers smaller than or equal to 630 mL and cans smaller than or equal to 1 L
    • 20 cents — Containers larger than 630 mL and cans larger than 1 L

    Containers aren’t just limited to bottles and cans. We also accept wine boxes (with the plastic bladders inside them), Tetra Paks and plastic bottles and containers made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). If you paid a deposit on it, bring it to us, and we’ll give the money back to you.

    What you do with that cash is up to you. You can put it toward your next Beer Store purchase, tomorrow morning’s caffeine run or maybe something that does good for others (more on that next).


  • You can donate your deposit returns to charity

    At The Beer Store, we believe in giving back to the communities where we work and live. And you can help us do that by donating your deposit refunds. When you return your empties, simply slide the proceeds into the donation boxes located right next to the cash.

    While it might not seem like pocket change can make a big impact, it does. For example, thanks to your donations, we were able to donate more than $2.38 million to local hospitals and food banks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The Beer Store also regularly supports a number of charities, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada — over the past 20 years, we’ve raised more than $20 million for the organization. And you can help by setting up a bottle drive and getting your family, neighbourhood or community group involved.


  • You’ll relieve pressure on municipal recycling programs

    Your town or city’s household recycling program works hard on all those glass jars, soup and pop cans, cardboard boxes and plastic laundry soap bottles. It doesn’t need alcohol containers on top of that, especially when we’re reuse and recycling pros.

    How much do our returns programs help? Well, in 2021, we collected 1.8 billion alcohol containers across Ontario. Not only did these items not clog up the municipal facilities that sort your household recycling, but they also stayed out of landfills and helped prevent 214,207 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from ever existing. That’s like removing 46,586 cars from the road!

    Plus, we make a big difference when it comes to glass specifically. Bottles often get broken when they’re tumbled around in mixed recycling receptacles. Shards can contaminate other recyclables and often get “down-cycled,” or turned into products of lower value, such as landfill cover. Empty beer bottles that come back to The Beer Store are clean, sorted by colour and reusable in most cases. Then they can be refilled or turned back into new food and beverage packaging and live their best green life.

  • You can be confident your recycling gets a new life

    About 225,000 tonnes of the waste that we divert is reborn as really cool stuff, such as plastic lumber, or new bottles and cans that hold more beer.

    Refillable glass beer bottles are reused, on average, 15 times. After they come to us, they’re sent back to the brewers, where they’re washed, inspected, sanitized and refilled before heading back into circulation. (Take a peek inside their journey.) Last year, 98 per cent of all refillable beer bottles sold in Ontario were returned. Cheers to that!

    The aluminum cans we take back are crushed and rolled into sheets to make new cans. (Check out what happens to them when they leave your hands.) The amazing part is that the lifespan of aluminum is nearly infinite, so this process can happen over and over and over again. Talk about lean and green.

    To get your empties ready for reuse, give them a quick rinse before you come in. Separate containers by type (wine bottles, Tetra Paks, beer cans, etc.) and group bottles by colour (brown with brown, green with green and so on) to make processing easy. Put cans or bottles back into the original packaging if you still have it. Already recycled the cardboard tote or box? No worries. Just fill up one of our in-store black plastic recycling totes when you arrive and slide it onto the belt.

  • You can bring us stuff your municipality doesn’t accept

    We take back any alcohol packaging we can reuse or recycle. And that’s way more than just the containers you’re returning for a deposit refund — from cardboard beer suitcases to bottle caps to plastic can wraps. We’ll keep those materials out of landfills and find ingenious ways to put them to work again. Now, that’s something we can all raise a glass to.

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