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Alta. puts deposit on milk containers June 1

The Alberta government plans on Monday to follow through on last October’s pledge to bring milk and liquid cream containers into a regulated deposit-refund system.

Starting June 1, milk and liquid cream containers will be returnable like other beverage containers to a bottle depot for a refund, making Alberta the first jurisdiction in Canada to include milk containers in such a system. The deposit fee for milk containers matches those on similar-sized containers already part of the deposit program. For containers one litre and under, the deposit will be 10 cents, while the deposit for containers over one litre will be 25 cents, the province said.

“We’ve made this change to increase recycling rates for beverage containers in Alberta and to help to foster a culture of conservation in the province,” said Drayton Valley-Calmar MLA Diana McQueen, the parliamentary assistant for the environment ministry, in a release Thursday.

Over two billion beverage containers are sold annually in Alberta; of those, about 500 million aren’t recycled, the province said. The current recycling rate for plastic milk jugs is 60 per cent, and for milk cartons it’s 22.5 per cent.

The province said its goal under its Too Good to Waste strategy is an overall beverage container recycling rate of 85 per cent, milk and liquid cream containers included.

Only marked containers identified by “AB Deposit” will be eligible for refund, the province noted. Unmarked milk and liquid cream containers bought before June 1 aren’t eligible for a refund and should be recycled through local municipal recycling programs.

“Consumers are advised to check with their local recycling authorities to determine whether milk and liquid cream containers will continue to be collected through municipal curb-side programs and drop-off depots after June 1,” the province said.

“Whether municipal programs continue to collect used containers is up to each individual municipality.”

Squashed containers will be accepted at a bottle depot if the “AB Deposit” marking is visible. Milk jugs’ labels must also remain on the jugs so they can be “reasonably identified” as milk jugs, but it’s also advised that containers be washed before they’re taken back for the refund.

“Any containers with a strong odour or with residual milk or cream may be rejected by the bottle depot,” the province said.

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