Ineffective current recycling program needs an update: it has taken far to long to do something about it

By Pepper Parr

May 6th, 2024



“It’s absurd how ineffective our current recycling program is, and how long it’s taken to do something about it

A recent poll commissioned by Environmental Defence found that 81 per cent of Ontarians want a deposit-return system for non-alcoholic beverage containers. The poll, conducted by Abacus Data, shows overwhelming public support for a better system to manage empties for drinks like pop, water and juice in the province. Support is up five per cent from last year when 76 per cent of Ontarians supported deposit return.

All this is handled as waste that has to be managed. A better solution is to have it delivered to retail locations and recycled. Getting the retail sector to buy into that is the problem.

Last summer, the province invited beverage companies, retailers, and other stakeholders to join a working group to explore the implementation of a deposit-return system in the province. But nearly a year has passed, and the province has yet to confirm its plan to deal with this source of plastic waste and pervasive litter. In the meantime, an estimated 1.7 billion plastic drink bottles have ended up in landfills, incinerators, and the environment. 

“It’s absurd how ineffective our current recycling program is, and how long it’s taken to do something about it,” said Ashley Wallis, Associate Director at Environmental Defence. “Ontario is one of only two provinces in Canada without a comprehensive deposit-return system, and as a result, it has the worst beverage container recycling rate in the country. Bringing deposit return to Canada’s most populous province could keep upwards of a billion plastic bottles out of landfills, incinerators and the environment every year.”

The poll also asked Ontarians where they want to return their empties. More than half would prefer to return their drink containers to retail locations, like grocery and convenience stores, suggesting that ease of use and accessibility are important factors for the government to consider when designing regulations. 

“Deposit return is a proven, common sense policy solution,” said Wallis. “It’s a solution Ontarians are familiar with, given the highly successful deposit system for alcoholic drink containers, and one that the public supports regardless of geography or political affiliation. We need Ontario to regulate a fair, and convenient deposit return system that ensures strong environmental outcomes and prioritizes ease of use and convenient access. There is no time to waste.”

If you want to see a change pop a note to the Burlington MPP Natalie Pierre

Tel. 905-639-7924


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7 comments to Ineffective current recycling program needs an update: it has taken far to long to do something about it

  • Bob Knight

    I lived in BC for many years before returning to Ontario and was flabbergasted when I couldn’t return bottles to retailers here like you do there. In Ontario, we can return beer, wine and liquor bottles for a refund; why not other kinds of bottles/cans?

  • Mary A.

    Solution. Dont drink bottled water. Use your tap.

  • We used to carefully sort our paper recycling from our bottles and plastics. Then I watched the waster collectors toss both my carefully sorted bins into one side of the truck. Worse still the entire mess is then compacted in the truck. I can’t image how anyone does anything with a crushed jumble of paper, plastic, aluminum cans and glass. I guess our politicians feel good because we have a recylcing program even if it’s in name only and everything ends up in the landfill.

  • Philip

    Sure sounds like a great idea—as long as you are prepared to pay higher prices. Imposing such costs on the grocery industry to implement a recycling program is going to cost a lot of money and the grocery stores will recoup those costs by charging YOU higher prices. Ready for it?

    • Clive Thomsd

      Well I guess the trashing of the planet will
      just have to continue, according to your rational.

      • Philip

        Not so, Clive. Just be prepared to pay–there are “no free lunches” despite what some eco-warriors think.

  • Grahame

    Where can one find info on the other 8 provinces deposit return programs?