How to do a bottle drive

Follow these easy steps to organize a profitable can and bottle drive!

There are two Bottle Drive options to consider:

Option 1: Going to a Return-It Express Depot location:

Make your bottle drive easier and more successful by using Return-It Express at your nearest Return-It Express depot:

  • Go to the Return-It Express depot of your choice. For locations see: and tell the depot you are organizing a bottle drive with Return-It Express. Ask the depot to print off Express labels – the depot has the option to print labels in bulk, say 50 or a 100 instead of the 6 labels you can print at the kiosk at a time.
  • You will also need bags, the bags simply need to be “Blue Recycling Bags” or transparent bags. These bags can be purchased at almost any grocery, drug store or hardware outlet. Glad, Western Family, Life, Safeway, No Name, HDX all will work with the Express system
  • Pre-label each bag and hand them out either door-to-door, at your classroom, assembly, and meeting or other event. Make sure to attach a simple flyer with:
    • Name of your organization
    • Reason for drive
    • Return-It Express drop-off location(s)
    • List of what you are collecting
    • Telephone number people can call for information
    • Each person receiving your pre-labeled Return-It Express bag can now fill up the bag with containers and drop the bag off at a Return-It Express location (it doesn’t matter which one, all deposits will go into the same account you have created). You can add a deadline to your bottle drive or leave the account open for future bottle drives.
    • You can manage your Return-It Express account online and request a cheque when you’re ready.

Sign up for your bottle drive Express account today: .

For any assistance and instructions on conducting a bottle drive with the Express system, contact your local Return-It Express Depot.

Option 2: Using a traditional Return-It Depot location

Step 1 – Put your team together

  • Form a team (it might be a committee already in place for fundraising or other community activities)
  • Choose a team leader for the drive
  • Assign responsibilities for the following steps
  • Check with your local municipality regarding guidelines and registration requirements.

Step 2 – Contact a Return-It Depot

To find an authorized Return-It Depot near you, visit the locations page, enter your postal code and select the depot location closest to you. Contact your local depot by phone and let them know you’d like to organize a bottle drive. They’ll provide you the support you need to get started.

Here is information you’ll find on our site:

Your local depot may provide even more resources to help you with your drive. Some depots may even offer free pick-up service.

Step 3 – Establish the best collection method that suits your style

  • Central Site Collection | Find a good central location like a field, church or parking lot and let the beverage containers come to you.
  • Depot Drop-Off | Collect your containers by setting up at a Return-It Depot. Returning them for a refund doesn’t get any easier than this.
  • Neighbourhood Pick-Up | It’s kind of like door-to-door but with a twist. Drop off flyers in your community that ask people to leave their containers in front of their houses. Then, when your event day comes around, simply swing by and pick them up.
  • Bulk Account | Head down to your local Return-It Depot and ask to have an account set up for your group. Anytime a member of your group or community returns containers, the money can go straight to your group’s fundraising account.

Step 4 – Spread the word & get social

  • Once you have decided on the date, the area and the collection method, you can coordinate the publicity. This is essential to a successful drive.
  • Have a reason for the drive such as buying sports equipment, financing a trip, helping in a building program or supporting a charity. Some goal the community can get behind.
  • Print simple flyers with:Name of your organization
    • Reason for drive
    • Date of drive
    • Time for collection
    • Collection method (door-to-door or central location)
    • List of what you are collecting
    • Telephone number people can call for information
  • Deliver a flyer to every home in your collection area
  • Make sure every member of your group has flyers to take home
  • Write a short announcement of the event, including the information on the flyer, and send it to the community events page of your local newspaper and to the public service announcement departments at local radio and television stations

The most effective method of distributing information is delivery of door-to-door notices. If you have the volunteers to do this, you should deliver the notices twice—one month before the drive and the week of the drive.

  • Get social – create a Facebook event for your drive and invite as many people as possible. Use Twitter and email too! We’ve created a social media contact list to get you started – click the Twitter or Facebook icon to share news of your bottle drive with radio and television stations in your community. Download the list here.

Step 5 – Assign collection teams and equipment

  • If you have chosen a door-to-door or neighbourhood pick-up collection, divide the area into sections and assign collectors, drivers and vehicles to these areas
  • If you have chosen a central site or depot drop-off, have a team onsite to greet people bringing in donations, and facilities for handling empty containers until you’re ready to deliver them to a Return-It Depot
  • Make sure packers follow the guide according to size and type. Soft drink and juice containers must be kept separate from containers for beer and other alcohol beverages.
  • Glass bottles should be packaged in cardboard boxes, in any quantity and sizes, making sure the number can be easily checked.
  • Have enough volunteers on hand to sort containers. This well help make your drive day efficient.
  • For any assistance and instructions, contact your local Return-It Depot.

To locate a Return-It Depot near you, visit our Locations section.

Holding a Bottle Drive

Many Depots work with a variety of charities and organizations to help raise money for their cause. If you are interested in setting up a donation program or bottle drive in Alberta, here are some tips.

Adopt a Community

Consider adopting a community as a way of increasing revenue. Let them know ahead of time when you will be coming through the area to collect donations. This can be done by circulating flyers or door hangers in the area.

Get in and out quickly

By communicating with the community ahead of time you can speed up your trip through neighbourhoods on the day of the event. Door hangers with specific times and dates can also offer an option to place donations on the porch with the door hanger attached. This speeds up the process.

Get to know your Depot

Your local Depot can help you plan your event and give you advice on how to best get the donations in the system and have more success. It’s recommended to pre-arrange your bottle drive with your Depot to schedule a drop-off time and be certain of any requirements.

Tools of the trade

Your local Alberta Depot has access to bottle drive tools to help make it a success. Some Depots have tools like bags and bag stands and others also have trailers or bins available to assist with your efforts.

Ask your local Depot what options they have to make your bottle drive a success!

Are you ready for some team building that helps the planet and supports a cause that you care about?

It’s as easy as hosting a bottle drive for your organization! Check out our tips below to ensure your drive is a success:

Depot Field Trip

Choosing a team lead is the first step to a successful bottle drive for your organization.

  • Team lead: Scout out your local Depot and coordinate with our bottle drive experts.
  • Depot staff: Help plan and schedule your drive and share info on container & return types. Some Depot operators even provide pick-up services.

Save the Date

With the help of your local Depot and team lead, select a date for your organization’s bottle drive. This can be one big push in a single day or a deadline to build up to.

Map Your Success

There are different ways to collect recyclables for your bottle drive. If collecting door to door, you can map out your route and designate areas to different departments ahead of time. Or if you have a main office, you can ask people to simply bring in and donate beverage containers over a defined time window.

TIP 1: Don’t forget to buy bags or bins that may be needed for the drive. Some Depots have tools like bags, bag stands, trailers, or bins available to assist with your efforts. Check with your local Depot to see what options they have to support you!

TIP 2: Set up a central collection point in a common indoor area with high foot traffic. An outdoor collection area can work great as well such as a parking lot. You can also collect containers around where your office is located.

Shout it Out

With the logistics and the date set, it’s time to shout your event details from the rooftops! Letting people know in advance can speed up the process and make it easier for everyone. Don’t forget to also let people know who you are and why you’re raising funds! A few suggestions are:

  • Promotional flyers, social media posts, and other creative efforts
  • Consult your municipality on placing temporary signs along well-travelled roadways
  • Send an announcement to your local radio station
  • Let the neighbourhood know ahead of time of your bottle drive using the free promotional tools provided by Alberta Depots including door hangers (with specific collection times and dates)

The Main Event

On the date of your bottle drive, wear your company colours (or team jersey if you have one) so the public knows that this is an organized effort. Anything from homemade posters to a team mascot can help draw more attention and support.

Cash In on Your Efforts

Your Depot will sort and count your containers, calculate the refund and provide a printed receipt. Feel free to pre-sort and count containers for a faster return through separating containers by size (smaller-than and up-to 1L and larger than 1L) and by material type (glass, metal, plastic, juice boxes, etc.). Leave tabs and labels on all of your containers. Flatten milk containers and jugs but do not crush cans and plastic bottles.

Share your fundraising results with your organization, stakeholders and the general public. Host a party to celebrate!

Did you know that there are grants for recycling infrastructure?

The Community Champions Program (CPP) is a grant program specially designed for not-for-profit organizations and municipalities in Alberta. The program provides funding for specialized recycling bins (indoor and outdoor), start-up support and more ensuring convenient out-of-home opportunities for recycling. Learn more about CPP.


  • Form a committee (it might be a committee already in place for fundraising or community activities).
  • Choose a team leader & assign responsibilities for the following steps.

CALL Us: 250-727-7480 or Book Online Here

  • We’ll help you plan a date that doesn’t conflict with other drives in your area.
    We’ll provide a fundraising kit to help with your drive.
  • If you collect over $500 worth of containers we’ll come and pick up your collection for FREE.
  • Collections under $500 will incur a $50 pick up fee.


  • You can collect door-to-door or have people bring containers to a central site. Collecting door-to-door requires more volunteers and more vehicles, but is more convenient for residents.
  • Central site collection works well with a school, church, parking lot or sports arena where people can bring their beverage containers. This system needs fewer volunteers and vehicles, but must be well advertised to be effective.


  • Consult a map of your community to decide how large an area you’ll canvass.
  • Concentrate on residential areas.
  • If there are apartment buildings, check with the manager to see if your team can get in to leave flyers to pick up empty beverage containers. Some managers may agree to collect beverage containers for you.


  • Once date, area and collection method has been decided, spread the word. Coordination of publicity is essential to the success of the drive.
  • Have a reason for the drive – a goal the community can support.
  • Print flyers and include the following info
    • Name of the organization
    • Reason for the drive
    • Time of collection
    • Collection method
    • List of what you’re collecting
    • A phone number people can call for information
  • Deliver a flyer to every home in the collection area.
  • Make sure every member of your group has flyers to give out.
  • Write a short announcement of the drive, including the information contained on the flyer and send it to the community page of your local newspaper, public service announcement departments of your local television and radio stations, post on Facebook and Twitter.
  • The most effective method of distributing information is delivery door-to-door. If you have enough volunteers, deliver notices twice – one month before and the week of the drive.


  • If you’ve chosen a door-to-door collection, divide the area into sections and assign collectors, drivers and vehicles to each area.
  • If you’ve chosen a central site, have a team onsite to greet people bringing in donations, and facilities for handling empty containers until you are ready to delivery them to the Bottle Depot.
  • Make sure packers follow the guide for size, type and number of containers per bag. Ensure that alcohol containers are kept separate from all other containers.

For more information, call (250) 727-7480 and ask for our Operations Manager.

17 Oct 4 Steps To a Successful Bottle Drive

School’s back in full swing (after a bumpy start), which also means it’s fundraising season again! Chocolates, anyone? Cookies? Magazines? Entertainment Books.

But what if you’re looking to make some money for your organization and save the planet at the same time? For this, nothing beats a good old fashioned bottle drive. Except, in order to make yours successful it might be time to do away with the “old fashioned” and bring your bottle drive into the 21st century!

Here are four steps to help make your bottle drive efficient, profitable, and fun:

Form a small group of people willing to take initiative and delegate tasks to each person in the group. For example, have one person in charge of advertising, one person in charge of volunteer recruitment, and someone else in charge of sorting the collected containers. Choose a leader, having one point of contact will make the whole process run smoothly. You should also decide whether you want to go door-to-door, or have people drop off their bottles and cans at a central location.

We have the knowledge, expertise and materials to make your day a success. Registration is FREE, and you’ll want to register well in advance to take advantage of our advice along the way. We’ve helped community groups collect over $95,000 from bottle drives, so you know you’re giving yourself the best chance for success!

This is where being strategic really counts. Start advertising as early as you can, to give people time to start saving their containers. Remind people about 1-2 weeks before the bottle drive and again 1-2 days prior to the event. There are countless methods for local advertising these days…use them all. Social media is an obvious choice (Facebook especially) and provides an easy way to post detailed information and connect with the community. Community websites often have places to post local events. Also, don’t ignore tried and true methods such as posting on community boards, advertising in local media, or even handing out flyers (though do be strategic with these for the good of our planet).

If you’ve followed Steps 1-3 (especially Step 2), then the actual bottle drive itself should be a breeze! Have a big group meeting before you start, so everyone is on the same page. Give a clear outline of what the day will look like with a specific timeline of events. Ensure that everyone involved knows who the leader is and has his or her contact information. Make it fun! Remind everyone why the money is being raised. Above all, thank everyone for coming out in support of your group…especially if it’s a “lovely” west/wet coast fall day.

So no excuses now…get out there, make some money, and save the planet! And, while you’re at it, don’t forget that Island Return It Recycling Centres also collect electronics, appliances, and a host of other planet-saving items.