What is it?
The kind of beverage containers we are referring to are considered single use and ready-to-drink. These generally hold soda pop, juice, water, alcoholic beverages and dairy & its alternatives. They are made of a variety of materials, including aluminum, tin, steel, plastic, glass, paper, and their combinations.
What is the issue?
Containers from beverages not consumed at home have the potential to become litter. It is the ease of access and portable nature of single use beverage containers which makes them very popular. Saskatchewan consumers use over 490,000,000 ready-to-drink beverage containers every year.
The provincial government contracts with SARCAN Recycling to deliver the beverage container recycling program. SARCAN, a division of the Saskatchewan Association for Rehabilitation Centers, operates 73 depots in 67 communities throughout the province. These containers carry a deposit of 5-40 cents which is refunded when the container is returned to a SARCAN Recycling depot. They also carry an Environmental Handling Charge (EHC), which funds program operations. Since the program began in 1988, SARCAN has recycled over six billion containers. The program boasts return rates of more than 86 percent. Check out our Waste Reduction Hub to find a drop-off location near you.
What happens after?
The recycling process works a little differently depending on the type of material you are recycling.
Plastic bottles: Plastic bottles are made into plastic flake or plastic fluff. From this point, they are recycled into products like polyester carpeting, and fiber fill in winter jackets or sleeping bags. A small fraction of recycled plastic can be included in new plastic bottles.
Carton and Aseptic (e.g. Tetra Pak) containers: These are recycled through a process called hydra pulping. This process separates the layers of paper from the plastic and aluminum. The different materials are then recycled separately and turned into new products, like napkins.
Aluminum cans: The cans are melted down and made into new aluminum cans. This process uses about 95 percent less energy than producing a can from new materials.
Tin / steel cans: These products are melted down and made into products like rebar and car parts.
Glass containers: The glass is crushed into, what is called, cullet. The clear glass is shipped to Potter’s Industries in Moose Jaw, which melts it into beads that can be used for a variety of things depending on their size, like reflective beads in highway paint. Coloured glass is used to make fiberglass insulation.
How can I reduce?
- Bring your own reusable bottle with you to avoid buying drinks on-the-go.
- Consider beer on tap or look for microbrewers with a "growler" exchange or refill system.
- Don't drink bottled water at home. If you don't like the taste of your tap water, try a filter. Then remember to recycle your filter at the end of its life.