Deposit on beverage containers | Return locations… which refuse containers

Cans accepted, but bottles refused, exclusion of certain brands, membership card required to return containers: the reform of the deposit was supposed to simplify life for the general public, but it started in confusion.

“We don’t take this one, because I don’t sell it in stores,” said the cashier at a Couche-Tard convenience store in Longueuil, pointing to one of the two empty beer crates that the Couche-Tard representative The Pressincognito, wanted to return.


The journalist of The Press in a Couche-Tard convenience store identified as the return location for returnable containers

The requirements imposed on return locations are however clear: “All returnable containers must be accepted there”, indicates the regulation which entered into force on 1er november.

“The other time, I was scolded by my manager because I took back bottles that we don’t sell,” the cashier defended.

In a nearby Walmart store, only aluminum cans and plastic bottles are accepted, thus contravening the regulations.

“This Walmart doesn’t take bottles,” a customer service agent said apologetically.

The Press also left empty-handed from a Montreal branch of the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC), although duly registered as a place of return.


A Montreal branch of the Société québécoise du cannabis, registered as a return location, refused to accept returnable containers.

“I’m not a troubleshooter, I recycle [sic] my bottles,” said the store manager, also ignoring his obligations under the law.

Reserved for members

At the Costco store in Longueuil, deposit reimbursement is reserved for holders of a paid membership card, although the regulations indicate that all return services “must be offered free of charge”.


At the Costco store in Longueuil, deposit reimbursement is reserved for holders of a paid membership card, which is contrary to regulations.

“At Costco, it’s a bit private, it’s not like a convenience store,” argued a supervisor called by the attendant who did not know how to reimburse the deposit amount to a non-member.

This violation of the regulations, like the others noted by The Pressrisks undermining the success of the deposit reform, fears Amélie Côté, source reduction analyst at Équiterre.

“What is shocking is that the result is once again to complicate the task for citizens who are going to return their returnable containers and who want to contribute to the proper functioning of the system,” she said.

We wanted to make a system that was easy to use, [mais] if the return locations do not comply with the obligations, well, we will miss the boat.

Amélie Côté, source reduction analyst at Équiterre

A “clean-up must be done” quickly, adds the general director of the Front commun québécois pour une gestion économique des waste, Karel Ménard.

“It’s a new system that we’re implementing, we can’t afford to fail,” he said, deploring the opposition that continues to the reform of the deposit among those who are responsible for the make it work.

“If you want the system not to work, you do exactly what they’re doing right now,” he said. I wonder if, sometimes, we don’t do a little bit on purpose so that the system doesn’t work. »

Karel Ménard believes that the Quebec Association for the Recovery of Beverage Containers (AQRCB), the organization created by bottlers to manage the deposit system, must devote all its energies to setting up the specialized return locations that will emerge. in anticipation of the second phase of the deposit reform, on 1er March 2025, when bottles of wine as well as cartons of milk and juice will in turn be subject to the deposit.

Old “well-entrenched” habits

Violations of the deposit regulations constitute “isolated cases”, said in an interview with The Press Maryse Taupier, senior director of network operations at the AQRCB.

” The transition [entrée en vigueur le] 1er November is a big change also for the actors involved,” she explained, adding that old habits are “well anchored” and that a period of adaptation is necessary.

The AQRCB says it has done what is necessary to inform return point managers of the operation of the deposit, setting up a working committee with the large food chains, sending newsletters to all registered retailers, making available to them a “toolbox”.

Consumers who encounter a problem are invited to inform the AQRCB at the telephone number 1-877-CANETTE or by email at [email protected].

“When we receive complaints, we contact the retailers, who are generally always collaborative,” assures Maryse Taupier.

The Quebec Recovery and Recycling Society (Recyc-Québec), which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the deposit regulations and to which the AQRCB must therefore be accountable, refused to grant an interview to The Press.

“The role of Recyc-Québec is to support the AQRCB,” Moïse Alex Docteur, spokesperson for the state-owned company, said in an email.

Success at Dollarama… with perseverance


Many Dollarama stores are now return locations for returnable containers.

Many Dollarama stores are now return locations for returnable containers, although staff at branches visited by The Press ignored it. “We don’t take that here,” the cashier of a store in Longueuil initially responded, before the manager informed her otherwise by criticizing this novelty. “I don’t have the space to put that,” she said, also complaining about the fact that her cash register provides an amount of 5¢ for the deposit, and not 10¢, the amount in force since 1er november. Few people seem to return their returnable containers at Dollarama, according to the reaction of the manager of another branch, during the passage of The Press : “Ah, my God, you are the first! »

The ABCs of the new instructions

Since 1er November 2023, the deposit amount was standardized at 10¢ for all returnable containers and the deposit was extended to all aluminum containers from 100 milliliters (ml) to 2 liters (L), such as juice cans or sparkling water. The extension of the deposit to other beverage containers from 100 ml to 2 L which are not yet returnable, such as glass bottles of wine and spirits or multi-layer cardboard containers for milk and juices, will take place on 1er March 2025 – the deposit amount on glass containers over 500 ml will be 25¢. Businesses with an area of ​​more than 375 m⁠⁠2 where these products are sold are required to take back all returnable containers – not just those they sell. Those whose surface area is less than 375 m⁠⁠2 can do so on a voluntary basis, but if they do so, they must also take back all returnable containers. The return must be offered free of charge to everyone.

Learn more

  • 5 billion
    Anticipated number of returnable containers that will be returned to retailers when the expansion is complete in 2025, double the current number

    SOURCE: Quebec Association for the Recovery of Beverage Containers (AQRCB)

    Recovery rate of returnable containers that the extension of the deposit should make it possible to achieve, compared to 73% currently

    SOURCE: Quebec Association for the Recovery of Beverage Containers (AQRCB)

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