April 30, 2007

PEI to revise beverage container regs to allow deposit/return system for non-refillables

The Prince Edward Island government will change provincial regulations requiring beer and soft drinks to be sold in refillable bottles and introduce a deposit/return system for non-refillable beverage containers. The current regulations requiring beer to be sold in refillable containers came into effect in 1973, and were expanded in 1984 to include carbonated, flavoured beverages.

Premier Pat Binns said the regulations had a positive environmental impact for many years, but have become less effective with changes in the marketplace. "In recent years," he explained, "we have seen rapid growth in the number of non-carbonated drinks such as water, juices and sports drinks available in cans and plastic bottles. As a result, we can no longer prohibit certain beverages from being sold in cans and bottles, while millions of cans and plastic bottles of these other drinks are sold."

Premier Binns said PEI will set up a deposit/return system similar to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia where consumers pay a ten-cent deposit on non-refillable containers such as cans and plastic bottles and receive five cents back when they return the empty containers. Based on figures from the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick programs, and factoring in the cost of running the system, he estimated that PEI's new deposit/return system will generate approximately $1 million per year. These proceeds, he said, will be directed into a new fund to be established to support environmental projects.

Minister of Environment, Energy and Forestry Jamie Ballem added that priority areas for funding will be watershed planning and management and litter prevention. Noting that the existing beverage container regulations were put in place to address a growing roadside litter problem, Ballem said the deposit/return system should address this issue by providing an incentive to return empty beverage cans for the refund.

In an effort to ensure that regulatory changes do not impact on jobs the province will also introduce regulations requiring that soft drinks be offered in a 50/50 balance between refillable and recyclable containers.

Details of the deposit/return system and the 50/50 offering of pop in refillable and recyclable containers will be finalized in the coming months, and the deposit/return system should be fully in place by fall. In the meantime, however, the sale of canned beer will be allowed in PEI by this summer. Other carbonated, flavoured beverages will be available in cans and plastic bottles as of January 1, 2008.

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