Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Beverage recovery numbers 'encouraging'

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Dec 23/05) - The territorial government released its beverage container recovery numbers for the first six weeks of the Beverage Container Program Dec. 15 calling the numbers "encouraging." More than 1.67 million containers have been returned for deposit; nearly a quarter-million in Inuvik alone.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Northmart's Grocery Manager Jeff Sullivan with two identical cans: one - the tomato juice on the right - requires a deposit under the GNWT's beverage container recovery legislation while the other - canned tomatoes - is not included in the territories' deposit program. - Jason Unrau/NNSL photo

However, a quick scan of your local grocer's shelves reveals many items, some in identical containers to those earmarked for deposit charges, that would be considered recyclable elsewhere in Canada.

Dairy products bottled or packaged in plastic containers are not included in the GNWT program, as are glass containers or cans containing food and plastic cleanser bottles.

"I would say it's half-and-half (deposit to non-deposit items)," said Northmart grocery manager Jeff Sullivan of the volume of inventory in containers that is sold at the Inuvik outlet. "I would even go so far as 60 per cent of the containers we sell are not refundable."

While Environment and Natural Resources director of environmental protection Emery Paquin says the government is committed to expanding the program, there are no immediate plans in the works.

"We want to make sure the beverage container program is working successfully," he said. "And so far it's been very positive, just a month-and-a-half in and there's been exceptional participation."

When pressed on what might follow, Paquin says further community consultation is planned and a report is expected by the end of 2007.

"It's really too early to say what types of waste the public would like to see an expansion of the deposit system on," he said. "It could be a voluntary system where people, if given the opportunity, would return an item without any type of refund."

Paquin said that by early next year, each NWT community will have its own depot, either independently operated or run through the department of ENR. In this region, in addition to the Inuvik depot, ENR has received applications for depots in Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk and Fort McPherson while Sachs Harbour, Holman, Paulatuk and Tsiigehtchic's depots would be initiated by ENR.

Paquin explained that the territory decided to go with beverage containers to introduce its recovery program in order to get people used to the idea of recycling.

"Many people think of beverage containers when they think of recycling. Everybody produces that waste and so everybody can get involved," he said. "It's to educate the general public on the benefits of recycling."

Back at Northmart, Sullivan goes from the canned tomatoes to the juice section and returns with a can of tomato juice -- in an identical can -- to show that the containers are exactly the same.

"I would say that if it's recyclable try and recycle it whether you are going to get any money or not."

Judy Harder who manages the Inuvik Depot located at Wrangling River Supply on Distributor Street says that, unfortunately, they can't accept cans or bottles that are not included in the deposit scheme.

"In the future it's always possible and we're still getting out feet wet," she said, adding that with the road south out since the program started, even if they could accept other items there would be no place to keep them. "Everything that has come in is still here. There are six seacans nearly full."

Harder said she expects to receive crushing equipment from ENR in January that will help compact the bottles, cans and tetra packs.