Some very exciting, significant changes are on the horizon for New Brunswick’s Beverage Containers Program (BCP). The Government of New Brunswick recently approved amendments to its Designated Materials Regulation under the Clean Environment Act in April 2023 to establish a new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program for managing used beverage containers (UBCs).
These amendments enabled the recent transformation of Encorp Atlantic Inc. from a for-profit entity into a not-for-profit producer-responsibility organization called Encorp Atlantic / Atlantique. Our new stewardship obligations for recovering and recycling UBCs extend to all alcohol and non-alcohol beverage product distributors who package their products in non-refillable containers. (Local breweries using refillable beer bottles will remain responsible for their own stewardship plans for recovering and refilling their beverage containers.) This new era of distributor cooperation has already allowed for improved efficiencies in administration and reporting, as well as a more streamlined approach for redemption centre (RC) operators.
The period from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2024, is a transition year. During this time, the BCP will continue to operate under its current Beverage Containers Act and General Regulation. However, on April 1, 2024, the program will switch to the newly amended Designated Materials Regulation of the Clean Environment Act. It will be fully converted to the EPR model.
We strongly believe the migration of the program to an EPR model represents the best opportunity to focus on environmental performance while providing improved access and convenience to recycling for all New Brunswickers. We are thus hard at work planning for April 1, 2024, and these proposed changes that will come with the EPR model:
- We will seek continuous improvement in UBC recovery rates: to 80% or higher within 10 years after transitioning the program to EPR with regular updates displayed via our Performance Indicator.
- We will seek the implementation of an industry-managed Container Recycling Fee (CRF). Each material stream will become self-funding based on costs and revenues of that material.
- We will seek to increase the refund amount consumers get back on the deposit paid for beverage containers. The new deposit-refund structure will be a fully refundable deposit.
- We will take on responsibilities related to RC licensing and compliance standards.
- We will lead extensive public outreach and education campaigns to increase consumer participation in recycling. We have branding and marketing concepts ready to be rolled out alongside technology tools to modernize the network of UBC collection points and attract new customers to the UBC return/redemption experience.
We believe the beverage product industry taking such a leadership role in increasing recycling and minimizing waste is the right thing to do. We are confident these changes will improve the consumer experience of returning and redeeming all New Brunswick deposit-bearing beverage containers and dramatically increase the UBC recovery rate in our province. We will continue to keep all beverage product distributors informed of the upcoming transition to EPR for beverage container recycling in New Brunswick.