July 9, 2007

PEI delays changes to beverage container rules to design a more effective management system

CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI-Changes to Prince Edward Island's beverage container regulations announced shortly before the recent provincial election have been delayed. The previous government had indicated its intention to make extensive changes to the regulations requiring beer and soft drinks to be sold in refillable bottles, and had committed to establishing a deposit-return system for non-refillable containers (EcoWeek April 30, 2007). The new Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister, George Webster, said that while the province remains committed to the introduction of new products, background studies and other work needed to implement the changes was not completed. "We need to exercise as much care and diligence as possible so that we are not dealing with unforseen problems in the future," he said. To that end, Webster said the government will retain an external expert to analyze various models available for managing beverage containers and to make recommendations relating to: protection of the environment; impacts on PEI's waste management system and on employment; and cost implications for consumers. 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 such as soft drinks. Since then, the rapid growth in the number of non-carbonated drinks available in cans and plastic bottles, such as water, juices and sports drinks, have made the current regulations less effective.

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