A big step forward in solving Queensland's plastic pollution crisis

On 22 July 2016, the Queensland State Government, with the backing of the LNP and all Independent MPs, announced the introduction of a Container Refund Scheme (Cash for Containers) for Queensland in 2018. This is a great leap forward for litter reduction, recycling and collection (and the jobs that go with this) and for community organisations who can make money from collecting bottles and cans.

The announcement is a stunning victory for all of us who have worked hard to get action to address litter and particularly plastic litter in Queensland. It’s something to celebrate as one of the most significant environmental policies of our generation.

With over 40 such systems around the world producing huge benefits, it’s clearly a good move for Queensland. However, when it comes to recycling reform, the devil is in the detail - and we need to ensure that the Queensland Government gets every detail right. From accurate statistics on rubbish quantities, to convenient redemption points for you to collect your refund, to making sure a scheme is based on the most effective systems around the world -- there’s lots of work to be done.

On February 18th 2017, the Queensland State Government released a public discussion paper seeking comment on the design and timing of the scheme, which keeps them on track to introduce the scheme in mid 2018. The public consultation period closed on March 20th 2017.

The government has taken all public submissions on board and are now working towards setting up the scheme, consulting with the appointed advisory committee through all aspects of the deign and implementation process.  Boomerang Alliance are a part of this advisory committee and will keep you updated with any relevant information.

A copy of our submission on the discussion paper can be found HERE

FURTHER INFORMATION

  • Boomerang Alliance and our allies welcome the introduction of a Container Refund Scheme in Queensland in July 2018.
  • Under the scheme all glass, plastic and aluminium beverage containers between 150ml and 3 litres capacity will attract a 10 cent refund, when returned to an approved collection point. We agree with the list and size of containers to be included as eligible for a refund, but question why wine bottles have been excluded.
  • We believe eligible containers should include all glass, plastic and aluminium beverage containers between 150ml and 3 litres (with the exception of milk, fruit juice and health tonics). Wine bottles, currently exempted should be included.
  • We believe that a 10 cent refund will provide the right incentive to encourage container return. If this proves insufficient we urge that the deposit amount should be increased. A refund should be paid according to the preference of the depositor. This could be cash, voucher or direct credit. A voucher (redeemable at a local shop) is our preferred option to encourage the establishment of convenient collection points (Reverse Vending Machines) at shopping centres.
  • We believe in convenient and accessible collection infrastructure. That means the public (and all communities) should have reasonable opportunity to return containers at convenient locations such as shopping centres, other retail places as well as private, council or community-run collection depots. We believe that retailers should have an obligation to provide collection points, as they are required to do at most successful schemes in other parts of the world.
  • The scheme, as proposed, is complementary to current Council kerbside collection services, we support local councils and community organisation having fair access to container refunds and/or handling fees from containers they have collected. We support local business interested in collection to have similar access.
  • In addition to any CRS logo or marking, for ease of operation and efficient refund return we believe that a barcode marking should be mandatory on each eligible container and used to identify and verify a refund. This would prevent fraud and allow remote and community-run collectors to fully and equitably participate in the scheme.
  • We believe that an independent, not-for-profit organisation should coordinate the scheme to ensure an equitable approach for all, accountability and public disclosure on the performance of the scheme. As the provider of containers we believe that the beverage industry should be responsible for covering the costs of the scheme.
  • We believe that the scheme should be regularly reviewed to ensure it is meeting performance targets. Targets for collection and for numbers of containers recycled should be set so that the scheme achieves collection and recycling goals, consistent with the world's best schemes, within 5 years.

WHAT EXACTLY IS A CONTAINER DEPOSIT SCHEME?

A Container Refund Scheme involves the payment of a refund (10 cents) for the return of every eligible beverage container to a recognised redemption point. In other words, people get cash for recycling their containers. There are over 40 such systems around the world including in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

South Australia has had a container deposit scheme since 1975, according to the CSIRO Marine Debris Report 2014, the amount of beverage container litter in South Australia is less than the amount of container litter in Queensland 'by a factor of three.’ In Queensland most beverage containers, despite kerbside collections, are wasted in landfill. In SA, container recycling rates are above 80%. In more modern schemes, such as Germany, container collection rates are close to 100%.

The primary objectives of a Container Deposit Scheme should be to:

  • Significantly reduce litter from beverage containers
  • Increase recycling of containers
  • Grow community benefits by providing income to charities; encouraging social enterprises and new jobs and regional business opportunities

Check out our resources on plastic pollution

 

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