This eighth article in a series on Canadian beverage-container recovery programs explores Prince Edward Island’s unique refillable container policy and recovery system. As with most North American jurisdictions, nonrefillable soft drink and beer containers became available in P.E.I. in the early 1970s. Marketed as part of the “new lifestyle,” disposable bottles and can sales soon constituted over 40 per cent of the province’s beverage container market. Concurrently, litter surveys indicated that without the historic incentive for consumers to return containers (e.g., deposits) the amount of litter on roads and beaches had increased dramatically.
In response to this new environmental problem, the provincial government banned the sale of beer in non-refillable containers in 1973 and the sale of all non-refillable soft drink containers by 1977. Shortly thereafter, deposit-return legislation was placed on beer and was extended to soft drink containers in 1984 (and to wine, spirit and cooler containers in 1992).
Today P.E.I. maintains the highest beverage container recovery rate in Canada — 98 per cent for soft drinks, 95 per cent for beer and 60 per cent for liquor containers.