PEI Bottle Deposit System

June 15th, 2008 by Potato

PEI has always been a bit of a funny place out on its own. Part of its unique character was the fact that you couldn’t get pop in cans out there. Oddly enough, juice did come in cans, but anything carbonated had to come in a bottle. A lot of people bristled against this, and one of the most common things to buy when on an excursion to New Brunswick was a couple of cases of Coke, but the system worked for the most part. The bottle deposits were fairly hefty — 30 cents for a 750 mL bottle IIRC, and as much as $2 for a 2L (which are no longer around because they were frickin heavy) — which is I think part of why it worked so well. Ontario also has a bottle return system (though it’s been several decades since pop or juice came in returnable containers) run by the Beer Store, which does a half-decent job of reusing the bottles; and reusing them is much more efficient than throwing them in the recycling. However, the deposits have really not kept up with the times, and far too often people simply throw their bottles into the recycling, where rather than be rinsed and refilled, they are smashed, melted down, and reformed (which, as you can imagine, takes a lot more energy). At 10 cents a bottle though, only serious drinkers with a full case (which is, from the looks of the stats, about 90% of beer drinkers) and a car tend to bother bringing them back — I know that even though I’m probably going to be close to the Beer Store tomorrow, I’m not going to bother trying to return the two bottles that were left at my house after the long weekend party for a lousy 20 cents.

The bottles are so near worthless that drunken kids throw them just for the sheer idiotic hell of watching them smash, never mind the dangerous broken glass. Which is, unfortunately, a nasty side effect of a bottle economy, and one of the main reasons PEI is now phasing out its bottle system and allowing cans back on the island (though from what I just saw in the grocery store, the 2L plastic bottles are more popular than the cans). With pop in bottles, the danger is amplified by the fact that kids can have access to them, knock them off store shelves or out of the fridge. Kids are clumsy. Adults (and who else is allowed to drink beer or liquor) should be able to handle not breaking bottles — even drunk adults (ideally, anyway). So here’s what I think: we should increase the bottle deposit to make beer bottles worth something again. The deposit in Ontario has been a dime for as long as I can remember — decades, at least. To keep up with inflation, that should have tripled to over 30 cents by now. To account for the fact that people are perhaps a little lazier and/or more smash-happy these days, and for the fact that the bottle deposit probably won’t be touched (if we do change it now) for another 3 decades, I propose that we increase the bottle deposit to an even buck.

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