Province’s next step should be to expand deposit return to include non-alcoholic drink containers.

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat – We applaud Ontario’s announcement that all grocery and big box retailers selling beer, cider, wine and other ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages will have to accept empties and refund customers’ deposits by 2026. The Beer Store’s long standing deposit-return system already keeps billions of alcoholic beverage containers out of landfills, incinerators and the environment every year. Expanding where Ontarians can return their empties will improve already high recycling and refill rates. If you sell it, you should take it back—this will better serve customers and the planet.

But Ontario can’t stop here. Now is the time to build on this critical development and expand deposit return to include non-alcoholic drink containers. Not only is deposit return the best way to achieve consistently high collection, recycling and refill rates, it is something a vast majority of Ontarians want. Polling commissioned from Abacus Data found that 81 per cent of Ontarians support an expanded deposit return program for non-alcoholic beverages, and more than half want to be able to return their empties to grocery and other retail stores.

We urge Ontario to move quickly and use this momentum to implement an expanded deposit return program to keep billions of non-alcoholic drink containers out of our parks, rivers and overflowing landfills.


  • Ontario and Manitoba are the only two provinces in Canada without deposit return for non-alcoholic beverage containers.

  • Ontario has the lowest recycling rate for non-alcoholic drink containers nationwide. Less than 50 per cent of these containers sold in Ontario are recycled. Meanwhile, provinces with comprehensive deposit systems recycle upwards of 75 per cent of their containers.

  • Environmental Defence has estimated that 1.7 billion plastic beverage containers are landfilled, incinerated or littered in Ontario every year.

  • Last summer, Ontario established a stakeholder working group to explore implementing a deposit return system for non-alcoholic drink containers.

  • The provincial government has set targets for beverage producers to collect and recycle or refill containers: 75 per cent by 2026 and 80 per cent by 2030. The only effective way to achieve these targets is an expanded deposit-return program with accessible return points for empties.

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( 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,