Ontario’s current recycling system only collects 43 per cent of beverage containers, but a deposit system could capture 90 per cent, keeping billions of containers out of the environment.

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat – A recent poll commissioned by Environmental Defence found that 81 per cent of Ontarians want a deposit-return system for non-alcoholic beverage containers. The poll, conducted by Abacus Data, shows overwhelming public support for a better system to manage empties for drinks like pop, water and juice in the province. Support is up five per cent from last year when 76 per cent of Ontarians supported deposit return.

Last summer, the province invited beverage companies, retailers, and other stakeholders to join a working group to explore the implementation of a deposit-return system in the province. But nearly a year has passed, and the province has yet to confirm its plan to deal with this source of plastic waste and pervasive litter. In the meantime, an estimated 1.7 billion plastic drink bottles have ended up in landfills, incinerators, and the environment.

“It’s absurd how ineffective our current recycling program is, and how long it’s taken to do something about it,” said Ashley Wallis, Associate Director at Environmental Defence. “Ontario is one of only two provinces in Canada without a comprehensive deposit-return system, and as a result, it has the worst beverage container recycling rate in the country. Bringing deposit return to Canada’s most populous province could keep upwards of a billion plastic bottles out of landfills, incinerators and the environment every year.”

The poll also asked Ontarians where they want to return their empties. More than half would prefer to return their drink containers to retail locations, like grocery and convenience stores, suggesting that ease of use and accessibility are important factors for the government to consider when designing regulations.

“Deposit return is a proven, common sense policy solution,” said Wallis. “It’s a solution Ontarians are familiar with, given the highly successful deposit system for alcoholic drink containers, and one that the public supports regardless of geography or political affiliation. We need Ontario to regulate a fair, and convenient deposit return system that ensures strong environmental outcomes and prioritizes ease of use and convenient access. There is no time to waste.”

Click here to view the polling results.

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Lauren Thomas, Environmental Defence, media@environmentaldefence.ca