The draft regulatory framework published recently by the Department of Environment and Local Government (DELG) presents a rare opportunity to improve the NB Beverage Containers Program (BCP). These proposed changes will go a long way at improving access and convenience for consumers but most importantly, by providing tools for redemption centre operators while building long-term financial sustainability for the BCP.
After 30 years since the introduction of the BCP, the time is right to demonstrate industry leadership and bring about greater cooperation amongst industry stakeholders and to focus on program performance for the benefit of consumers.
Our highlights for the past year include the deployment of Point-of-Sale (POS) technology that commenced in early 2022, enhanced province-wide communication and outreach and the ongoing discussions with the New Brunswick Government on migrating the current program to an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) model.
The yearly estimate of environmental fees paid for fiscal 2021-2022, including profit sharing for the non-alcoholic product distributors amounts to $9,558,620. This amount is the largest ever yearly contribution by Encorp Atlantic. This brings the total contributions to the Environmental Trust Fund (ETF) since 1993 to $172 million.
For the year ending March 31, 2022, redemption rates in New Brunswick showed the lowest results since the launch of the program in 1992. Despite the falling rates, redemption centres (RC) are not necessarily witnessing the full impact of the eroding consumer participation because sales have increased by 9.7% in the past year and a recent handling fee increase of 11.8% (April 1, 2022) have mitigated the sliding participation from beverage consumers.
Is the falling participation attributed to consumer fatigue, the results of the COVID pandemic or the eroding value of the half-back deposit model? The challenge in the foreseeable future is going to be how to attract consumers who have stopped using RCs to start recycling again.