It’s no secret that the Beverage Container Program (BCP) in New Brunswick is in serious need of modernization. The BCP is quickly becoming unsustainable if it continues in its current trajectory.
Used beverage container (UBC) recovery rates in New Brunswick are among the lowest for beverage container deposit programs in Canada and are declining. This is largely due to:
- Consumer fatigue with the current system in place which has not kept up with the times;
- Lack of convenience and access to collection points;
- Confusion related to accepted containers and different deposit and refund fees; and
- Current refund available to consumers (5 cents) no longer a strong enough motivation to visit a redemption centre when curb side pick-up options are offered for recyclables by Regional Service Commissions.
Therefore, to bring the BCP in line with other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world, we are proposing New Brunswick adopt an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) model. EPR is a policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility, physical and/or financial, for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle. EPR shifts responsibility upstream in the product life cycle to the producer.
With that in mind, these are what we recommend as changes to the BCP in line with EPR principles:
- Encorp will seek continuous improvement in UBC recovery rates: 75% in 5 years and 80% or higher within 10 years after transitioning the program to EPR with regular updates displayed via our Performance Indicator.
- Encorp anticipates that changes will be required in the Beverage Containers Act and General Regulation to allow for 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.
- Encorp 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 10 cents fully refundable deposit.
- Industry will take on responsibilities related to redemption centre licensing and compliance standards.
- Encorp will lead public outreach and education campaigns to increase consumer participation in recycling. Encorp has 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 propose to migrate Encorp Atlantic Inc. to a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO), similar to British Columbia, complete with a published annual report and financial statements.
A key component in increasing UBC recovery rates is to get consumers who do not currently bother to redeem their UBCs to start doing so. Improving UBC collection points for consumer access and convenience is one part of the solution. Enticing consumers to redeem their UBCs by increasing the deposit refund amount is another. Our plan proposes a 10 cents refundable deposit and a flexible CRF, which we are confident will increase consumer participation in the BCP. The CRF will ensure each material stream becomes self-funded based on costs and revenues of that material type and allow for the 10 cents deposit portion to be fully refunded to consumers. The introduction of a CRF will also ensure the program is financially stable in the long-term and be used to fund investments needed to achieve high target UBC recovery rates.
By cooperating with all distributors, we hope to achieve reduced sorts, optimize collection and transportation routes, a single administration, provide a data management system (POS) to all RCs, pursue communication and outreach efforts, and take on responsibilities related to redemption centre licensing and compliance standards.
We’ve also adopted a marketing strategy to improve UBC return rates in New Brunswick by encouraging everyone to “Be A Recycling Hero!” and educate on the importance of UBC recycling in order to keep the province and its beautiful outdoor spaces litter free. Additionally, we will be targeting schools to implement recycling programs and partner with local RCs as a means to raise money for school activities and programs.
We are confident the changes proposed 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. This is a win-win for everyone!