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P.E.I. looking to follow New Brunswick’s lead on bottle deposit bump

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Prince Edward Island is looking to triple its refund for used bottles and double the deposit in an effort to keep more garbage out of ditches.

According to Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Action Steven Myers, 78 per cent of the bottles and cans in the provincial refund program are returned; however, he’d like to see that number increase.

“I’d like to see it all go back because that would mean it’s not in ditches, or in places that it shouldn’t be,” said Myers. “I think that as population grows, that 20 per cent is a growing number of cans and bottles that we can’t account for.”

The increase would see the deposit paid on bottles and cans doubled from 10 to 20 cents each and the refund tripled from five to 15 cents per bottle or can.

P.E.I. is the second province in the region to look at the change. New Brunswick is doubling its refund in April. Myers said they’ll be watching that rollout to see what they can learn.

“We’re kinda walking a very ginger path here as we try to figure out what the best path is to make it so that people will return their bottles, but we don’t want to put them into some sort of hardship if they’re purchasing a high volume of them now,” said Myers.

He said currently the deposit program takes in about $8.5 million each year, $7.5 million of which goes back out in refunds.

Myers said the five cent refund isn’t enough money for many people to bother returning their recyclables, or to incentivize people to go out “picking” — taking bottles from ditches and the like.

Liberal leader Hal Perry was on board with the idea, following his questions on the matter on the floor of the legislature Thursday.

“Now we all know that incentivising environmentally sustainable practices results in clearer results, and this would have the added benefit of putting more money in people’s pockets,” said Perry. “Especially those that grapple with the cost of the living crisis we’re presently in.”

The program isn’t ready yet, but Myers says they're aiming to make the change in August.

For more Prince Edward Island news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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