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Let’s talk about recycling (and why it rules)

We think recycling is really cool and love that you do too. Let’s unpack the nitty-gritty of how your involvement makes a huge impact on your wallet and the earth

We talk about recycling all the time, and it’s because we’re super proud of our environmental accomplishments. Thanks to you returning your empties, we have a very high recovery rate. But what’s the real deal with recycling? It’s a lot more than just handing off your finished suds vessels to us. Recycling plays a huge part in reducing Ontario’s environmental footprint, and we’re all about it. Your bottles, cans, cardboard and caps have whole lifespans that carry on when you make returns, and trust us, every container counts. Here’s why recycling matters.

Let’s talk history

We’ve been dedicated to protecting the environment for a really long time — almost 100 years! So here comes a #humblebrag: Our recycling program is one of the most successful in North America. Since 1927, we’ve been proudly promoting the circular economy through reducing, reusing and recycling. You know it best as our deposit system, and it’s been an integral part of our return success rate. In 2019, we collected over 1.82 billion beverage containers from Ontario consumers. Can’t visualize that amount? Then check this out: If you stacked those 1.82 billion items end to end, they’d almost reach the moon. THE MOON. And here’s another tidbit: Returned refillable beer bottles are reused an average of 15 times before being recycled into new glass bottles. Pretty cool, huh?

What The Beer Store takes back

You already know we want your bottles and cans, but maybe you’re less familiar with our desire to breathe life back into basically everything we sell (and even some stuff we don’t). Here’s a handy guide of what you can bring into the store.

  • Bottle caps and pull tabs
  • Glass containers (beer, wine, cooler and spirit bottles)
  • Aluminum and steel cans
  • Tetra Paks
  • Bag-in-box
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and plastic containers
  • Any cardboard, plastic or other packaging that accompanies the products you buy from us

What happens to the stuff you return to The Beer Store?

Not to nerd out, but the reincarnation of what we accept is a fun part of the circle of life. Here’s what happens to the material you bring back for us to recycle and repurpose.

  • What happens to cans?

    Once you’ve finished with them, your aluminum beer cans are crushed into metal sheets to make — you guessed it — more cans for food or new beverages. Steel cans, a small portion of the mountains of cans we recycle each year, are mixed with other recycled steel and made into new steel products.

    Watch your aluminum cans’ life cycle here.

  • What happens to glass bottles?

    As we mentioned before, refillable glass beer containers (coloured and clear — we take both) are reused an average of 15 times before they get turned into new glass bottles and other glass products. Don’t worry: The refillable bottles get washed, inspected and sanitized before being recycled. It’s actually very technical.

    Watch your refillable glass bottles’ life cycle here.

    Non-refillable glass containers are recycled into new ones for food and beverages, other glass products and, sometimes, fibreglass. Some of this happens at the Owens-Illinois glass container manufacturing plant right here in Ontario.

  • What happens to boxes?

    Schlep your empties back to us in their original boxes in order to keep bottles safe from chips and cracks. We’ll recycle and reuse the corrugated boxes and boxboard to make new packaging.

Do I need to do anything special before I drop off my recycling?

Make your recycling trip efficient and fruitful for both of us by following these pro tips.

  • Glass

    Separate your glass bottles by colour. Greens and browns can go together. Clear stands alone. Place them in their original boxes or the cartons provided at the store. Please remove the beer caps and stash them in a separate box. For efficiency’s sake, divvy up your returns by deposit level too, such as small 10-cent bottles and larger 20-cent bottles.

  • cans

    Keep your cans separate and in their original boxes or a provided tote. Have the number of cans tallied before you get to the store so you can tell the cashier. We’ll take the tabs and plastic rings they came in, too.

  • Plastics & others

    Plastic also gets separated. Keep plastic bottles on their own, and start a separate stash for any other materials, like bag-in-box and Tetra Paks. Ceramic containers stand alone.

Break down extra boxes

We ask that you place your glass empties back in their boxes to avoid chips and breaks. This break-down task applies to the boxes not holding your empties. You don’t *have* to do this, but our staff sure appreciate you returning extra boxes broken down so they can get you sorted quickly.

Get involved

We’re so happy to see you taking part in our recycling initiative by returning your empties. But we love it when you drive the bus, too. Further your commitment to being greener by hosting or participating in a bottle drive to raise money for initiatives like Habitat for Humanity, Terry Fox or a charity of your choice. Tag us on social if you do — we’d love to see it. Here’s more info to help you get started.