How to recycle beer bottles, wine bottles and so much more at The Beer Store

Hot chili and cold beer are made for each other

Pioneers of the circular economy since before it was cool? That’s us. We’re environmental leaders, and we want you to be part of the circle, too. Here’s what you need to know to return every container and piece of packaging you buy from us (and some from others, too!)

We’ve been committed to environmental stewardship since 1927. Out of the gate, our goal has been a cleaner, greener Ontario. It’s something that you help us achieve by participating in our successful deposit return system, which recovers an impressive 95 per cent of refillable bottles alone. It’s different from your curbside recycling pickup, and we’re not shy about bragging about our recovery rate — or our accolades. Something else that we’re particularly proud of is that we don’t just recycle; we reuse bottles you’ve returned — sometimes up to 15 times.

We don’t just take empties off your hands, either. Bring back anything you buy from us — bottles, cans, plastic rings, and boxes and plastic packaging from multi-packs — and any other alcohol containers sold in the province of Ontario.

The good news is that bottle and can returns not only help the environment but also your pocket and local charities. You’ll get 10 cents back for each can that’s less than or equal to 1 L, and each glass or plastic bottle that’s less than or equal to 630 mL. You’ll receive 20 cents back for each can that’s larger than 1 L, and each glass or plastic container that’s larger than 630 mL. Through your generous donation of bottle return deposits, we were able to give $2.3 million to approximately 165 charities in 2020.

Once you’ve found your nearest return-accepting location and planned your visit, the rest of your pre-return prep work is minimal. Here are answers to the most common questions, plus a handy cheat sheet.

  • How do beer bottle returns work?

    We handle the beer bottle recycling and reusing parts; you just need to bring us your empties. Before returning beer bottles, please rinse them at home and sort them by colour — brown bottles with brown bottles, clear with clear, and green with green. For added ease, we provide black totes in-store to corral them, but if you’re getting them ready at home, simply set the sorted bottles in their original packaging, necks facing up and bottoms flat on the floor of the container.

  • How do I recycle wine bottles and other alcohol containers?

    We may have beer in our name, but we’re so committed to recycling that you can return all glass alcohol bottles sold in the province of Ontario to us, too. Under the Ontario Deposit Return Program, we accept wine, cooler and spirit bottles. To start, rinse them out and sort by colour, just like your beer bottles. (Keep greens, clears and those fancy blues in their own groups.) If you have any one-off bottles that aren’t like the others, please separate them as best you can and put them in our provided black totes in-store, necks pointing up.

  • What about aluminum and steel can recycling?

    Excellent question. The aluminum and steel cans we collect are melted down and rolled into sheets, which then get made into new cans. We take all beer, wine, cider and other alcoholic beverage cans sold in Ontario.

    Please make sure to count your empty cans before you arrive. Knowing your total will save time. If possible, please bring the cans back in their original packaging — if that’s not available, a clear plastic bag or a reusable bin, bag or tote will work. Rinsing your cans will help keep your reusables from getting sticky. There’s no need to sort cans by brand or colour, because these recyclables live together harmoniously.

  • How do I recycle plastic wrappers and rings?

    Bring them to us. When we say wrappers, we mean the plastic packaging that hugs some packs of beer. And when we mention rings, we’re talking about those plastic loops that hold six-packs of cans in place. Keep these plastic items together for a seamless hand-off at the recycling desk.

  • How should I sort beer boxes and carriers?

    Around here, we call that secondary packaging, and we’re all about taking it off your hands and recycling it. Your beer boxes and carriers have a dual purpose — to get your brews home from the store, and then to hold sorted, empty cans and bottles as you get ready to make your returns. If you have extra empty beer boxes, bring them in — all we ask is that you flatten them before swinging by.

  • How do I recycle wine boxes (with the bladder/bag inside) and Tetra Paks?

    Ah, yes, wine boxes, plastic bladders and Tetra Paks — we’ll happily recycle those for you. The rule here, again, is to sort them by type and keep them separate from your other returns.

  • Can I bring in PET plastic bottles and containers, too?

    If you didn’t know, PET (or PETE) stands for polyethylene terephthalate. And, yep, we’ll take containers made from it if they once contained alcoholic beverages and were sold in Ontario. Then we’ll send them off to be made into plastic strapping, felted automotive parts and plastic lumber.

  • What do I do with bottle caps and pull tabs?

    Give them here, please. As we mentioned, we’ll take back everything we sell, and that includes bottle caps and aluminum pull tabs. Round them up in separate bags, tucked away from your other returns.

    Besides beer, our favourite things are recycling and giving empties a chance at a new life. Thanks so much for helping us strive for our goal of a greener Ontario.

Did You Know?

We’re not kidding when we say we live for the circular economy. Check out The Beer Store Responsible Stewardship 2020 report for a highlight reel and pat yourself on the back, because taking the time to return your empties has a huge impact. In 2020:

  • We collected 1.8 billion containers — stacked end to end, they’d nearly reach the moon!
  • Your returns helped Ontario avoid about 2,405,978 gigajoules of energy consumption.
  • Together, we raised $2.3 million for approximately 165 charities through health-centre and food-bank fundraisers.
  • Our recycling program diverted more than 265,000 tonnes of waste from landfills.
  • Our returns program helped us avoid 207,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions — which is the equivalent of removing 44,752 cars from the road.
  • Forty per cent of the glass we recycled went to back into the economy via Canada’s fibreglass industry, which makes insulation that keeps your home cozy.
  • 429,958,048 refillable glass bottles went back to brewers to be sanitized and refilled.

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