Bin it to win it - A simple step for c-stores to boost sustainability

Recycling efforts at the store level pay off in myriad ways.
recycling bins

There is something c-store operators can do at the store level that has proven to help in a big way with creating a sustainable, circular economy and that gets customers involved: enable them to recycle while exiting the store and while refuelling or charging their vehicles.

A “waste audit” from the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association (CBCRA) found that 63% of the contents thrown into the garbage both in front of a c-store and at their gas pumps without blue bins is recyclable. Of that recyclable content, 2% to 8% is beverage containers. 

In Manitoba, when 7-Eleven stores with gas stations had recycling dispensers for customers installed for the first time in 2019 and 2020, the CBCRA found most recyclable content came out of the garbage –82% to 93% of it—and into their proper receptacle. 

“It is amazing how many people clean out their car while filling it up with gas, but a lot of them don’t wait until they get home to dispose of the recyclables,” says Ken Friesen, CBCRA’s executive director. “But if you make it convenient for them—which is what a convenience store is supposed to do—customers take the care to recycle.” 

A side benefit for c-store owners involved in the 7-Eleven project: less litter around their stores. 

“When people have a choice of both a garbage and recycle bin, they seem to take more care about disposing things in the garbage, too, like candy wrappers and chip bags,” says Friesen. 

By adding a recycling program, c-stores will also be supporting the ramped-up efforts of their key vendors. 

Beverage and snack manufacturers in Canada are looking to do a better job of encouraging consumers to recycle. Coca-Cola, for instance, told Convenience Store News Canada it has created four new “Recycle Me” messages for its soft drink, smartwater and Gold Peak bottles. Each bottle will feature one of the new labels starting this year. 

Catherine O’Brien, SVP, corporate communications for Nestlé Canada—who is responsible for its environmental sustainable strategy—says the company aims to have 100% of  packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, up from the current rate of 87%. 

“Across our products and with our employees, we try to emphasize and educate proper recycling practices. This same practice can be cascaded to Canadian consumers at convenience stores with in-store signage,” she says.

Mondelez International—which makes brands like Caramilk chocolate bars, Dentyne Ice gum and Halls cough drops—has committed to making 100% of its packaging recycle-ready by 2025 as well and with recycling labeling information.

“It is part of our plan to deliver on our long-term vision for zero net waste packaging,” says Mackenzie Davison, growth lead at Mondelēz Canada.

This article originally appeared as part of the Sustainability Report in the May/June 2021 issue of Convenience Store News Canada. 

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