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Container deposit scheme:

waste recycling

the state of play


Mike Ritchie, Director, MRA Consulting Group

The NSW Government announced in February 2015 that it had a preference to introduce a container deposit scheme (CDS). That announcement was endorsed by the Opposition. So what is the state of play beyond NSW? • The Queensland Government has said it

a CDS (so long as MRF operators could

• Should all kerbside containers be eligible?

will model its system on the NSW model;

redeem deposits). The reason: even though

(eg, why include 3 L milk HDPE contain-

• The Northern Territory has now intro-

83% of eligible containers are redeemed

duced its own system after a false start

outside of the kerbside system, the 10 c

and a legal challenge by the packaging

redemption on each container left in the

industry (the courts found the original

kerbside recycling bin is worth more than

design fell foul of the interstate Mutual

the value of the glass, plastic, etc as a raw

service providers?

Recognition Act);

material. So the value of the recycling bin’s

Each of the above is subject to conjec-

• South Australia has had a system for

contents increases under a CDS and that

ture and debate. What we do know is that

decades, operating well although rela-

gain is shared by the industry and councils.

the NSW Government has agreed to set up

At this time, the NSW Government has

a technical advisory committee to review

not proposed its preferred model for a

options. It will spend time consulting with

CDS. The packaging sector has proposed

stakeholders before providing recommenda-

880 reverse vending machines (RVMs) to

tions on final design to the NSW government.

tively expensive; • The ACT would be likely to follow the lead of NSW in its CDS; • The state government of Victoria has rejected proposed state-based systems

be spread across NSW.

ers — they are rarely littered) • Should the scheme be mandatory or voluntary? • Should MRF operators be involved as

This debate has been ongoing for 15

and the Environment Minister has de-

That is not very many. So clearly this

years — far too long in my view. Simply

clared that it is “unconvinced that the

model is focused on public place recovery

put, we need a system that is cost effective;

way to [increase the beverage container

of containers (and not as a replacement to

reduces litter; supports positive action by

recycling rate] is the container deposit

kerbside recycling).

consumers and community groups; and does


It is a very different model to that enunci-

not lead to perverse economic outcomes.

• The Western Australian Government will

ated by local government and the Boomerang

It is important to remember that packag-

not pursue a state-based CDS while a

Alliance, which see a full container collection

ing represents just 4% of the waste sent

national system is being pursued; and

infrastructure built (via RVMs) across the

to landfill. A brilliantly run CDS will have

• The Tasmanian Government considered

state to replace most of the collection of

a very small impact on waste to landfill.

containers via kerbside recycling.

(It is swamped by organic waste, which

implementing a CDS, but after a study suggested it would come at a high cost

It is of course possible to sequence

to consumers, it decided not to proceed.

both — to start with public place RVMs

So is it worth doing? Yes — but as

So, five out of eight states/territories are

and gradually increase their abundance.

one small step in a much longer journey,

seriously considering change.

The higher their density, the more they will

of creating a circular economy based on

extract from kerbside bins. The scheme

economically sustainable and efficient re-

design issues yet to be clarified are:

source recovery.

MRA Consulting completed a study for the Local Government and Shires Association of NSW, which showed that local govern-

• Should there be a 10 c deposit at all;

ment and MRFs would be better off under

why not a donation to charity instead?

represents 60% of waste to landfill.)

MRA Consulting Group

Oct/Nov 2015 - Sustainability Matters 39

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Sustainability Matters Oct/Nov 2015  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Oct/Nov 2015  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...