The NSW Container Deposit Scheme (Return and Earn) started on 1 December 2017. It’s the first modern scheme in Australia (there are older systems in South Australia over 40 years ago and the NT in 2012). Not surprisingly there are implementation issues we are learning about fast – lessons Qld and WA which are also introducing schemes are watching closely.
It was a hard fought and long battle to get the CDS up with the vast majority of the community confronting the beverage industry. Even when Premier Mike Baird announced an election commitment in early 2015, the Advisory Committee set up soon after had to debate for a year whether we should have a deposit scheme because the Premier’s media release said the government would consider ‘better alternatives’. There were none especially on environmental grounds as CDSs around the world are proven to massively reduce bottle and can litter. And a recent benefit cost study by the EPA found a benefit of $1.33 for every $1 of cost.
The legislation passed with unanimous support in Parliament; legally binding contracts have been signed with the Scheme Coordinator and Network Operator; and collection points are being rolled out.
The time to install collection sites has been short and the initial commitment of 85% of the proposed 500 by 1 December has been reduced to less than 50%. It was never possible to have all sites in place on Day 1 and evidence from schemes elsewhere shows, there is a gradual process as the best sites and customer demand are proven over time. Nevertheless some consumers will justifiably be frustrated but it doesn’t mean you lose the value of the refund – the containers can be stored.
The convenience of collection points has always been a very important issue. Unfortunately governments rejected our long held position that the best approach is that retailers (above a certain size) should be mandated to redeem refund vouchers, thus integrating with regular shopping trips. So instead of the ad hoc, voluntary (and welcome) involvement of Woolworths we are now seeing – we would have had earlier and more coordinated retail involvement across the sector for the establishment of reverse vending machine kiosks in nearby car parks.
The deposit is not a ‘tax’. The government does not get the money and you can refund the entire amount. If you put your drink containers into the kerbside collection or donate them, it’s your choice. Those that don’t refund or donate, are rightly paying for the costs of cleaning up the litter.
One issue that is causing angst amongst smaller beverage producers and outlets is the imposition of an advance payment of the refund and handling fee. While this is absolutely necessary to build up the trust fund from which refunds and costs can be paid out from Day 1 – a clear lesson is better communication and the need for some interim assistance to defray genuine commercial risks. The NSW government has recently gone some way in responding by providing loans but planning will need to be improved for other states.
Consumers who choose to leave their bottles and cans in their kerbside bins are donating them to the kerbside collection system. It is planned that these funds will come back to ratepayers after a share agreement is reached between councils and waste collectors.
An issue that needs to be resolved very quickly is to make it easier to redeem bottles and cans that cannot be serviced by the automatic scanning technology, because they are damaged, crushed or the barcode is missing.
While consumers should keep the containers intact as it is important that the system has an accurate count of returns to avoid fraud – collections from litter or big events can be more problematic. At present they are cut out of an easy return system because the alternative to automatic scanning is delivery to other recycling facilities which will use a weight based system, instead of individual counts. However, only local councils can participate. This needs to be changed urgently so that bulk deliveries from community groups and events can receive the refund.
NSW is pioneering the modern Australian container deposit system. While most such schemes around the world have common characteristics, there is always adjustment for local conditions. We are finding out about these now, but it will be worth it for a cleaner environment now and decades into the future.
Boomerang Alliance asked political parties in Queensland about their policies on plastic litter and waste reductions. With a plastic bag ban and container refund scheme already agreed upon by all parties and scheduled for introduction in July 2018, we were keen to know what each party proposed as the next steps to reduce single use plastics.
Our idea is for a Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan to identify and recommend solutions that will eliminate and reduce single use plastics. We were interested in addressing plastics use in the home and office, away from home, in commercial, industrial and agricultural settings and in the marine environment as a result of poor fishing practice and discards from vessels.
We also urged the immediate phase out of polystyrene takeaway products, and plans to phase out single use, non-biodegradable cups and food ware.
We also asked for support for a Waste levy in Queensland. Only the Greens have supported this, with the ALP wanting to wait on the current independent investigation on interstate waste transportation report-expected next month.
This is how the parties scored. We don’t endorse any political party but provide this as a guide to any Queensland voter concerned about plastic waste and litter.
Read Labor's response HERE
Read the Greens Response HERE
Authorised by Jeff Angel, Director, Boomerang Alliance, 99 Devonshire St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Plastic Pollution and Litter Reduction Policies (Queensland)
‘95% of plastic packaging is used once and then thrown away.’
New Plastic Economy-Ellen Macarthur Foundation/World Economic Forum Report 2016
In the next term of Parliament, we seek a new agenda on plastic reduction that builds on the good work achieved so far through the plastic bag ban and the Container Refund Scheme.
Boomerang Alliance supports the introduction of a Waste levy on all mixed wastes going to landfill in QLD, with any revenue hypothecated to resource recovery.
1. Maintain the introduction of a ban on lightweight plastic bags (including biodegradables) and a Container Refund Scheme in July 2018.
2. Expand the plastic bag ban to include the mass release of helium balloons and include plastic bags up to 70 microns.
3. Develop a Plastic Pollution Reduction Strategy for Queensland to follow up on the introduction of a Container Refund Scheme and plastic bag ban.
4. Provide support to communities actively seeking to reduce their single- use plastic packaging and introduce an educational program to promote the switch to reusable alternatives.
5. Introduce an immediate ban on polystyrene takeaway containers and food ware.
6. Set a program for the future phase-out of single use, non-biodegradable takeaway items by 2020 (coffee cups/lids, straws, takeaway containers, food ware and water bottles) in Queensland.
Priority plastic waste streams and practices for investigation in the Plastic Pollution Reduction Strategy should include:
- Soft plastics and film (with focus on retail/manufacturer practices)
- Agricultural/industrial use of single use, disposable plastic packaging and sheeting
- Plastic fishing lines/nets and bait bags
- Away from home plastic /composite items-coffee cups/lids, straws, food ware and takeaway containers
Authorised by Jeff Angel, Director, Boomerang Alliance, 99 Devonshire St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010.
We have some exciting news !!
Yesterday Premier Mark McGowan announced that Western Australia will ban plastic bags from July 2018. A time frame has also been given for Western Australia’s Container Deposit Scheme on bottle and cans. It is expected to start on 1 January 2019.
The failure of today’s meeting of environment ministers to agree on national coverage of plastic bag bans is due to the intransigence of NSW. Other states (WA, VIC) without bans have already announced they are looking at such action. NSW resists with the state being ever more flooded with polluting lightweight bags.Read more
Woolworths & Coles Ban the Bag in Australia
Today we welcome the announcement that Woolworths and Coles will ban lightweight plastic bags in their stores nationally from July 2018. Woolworths currently provide 3.2 billion plastic bags through their supermarkets annually.
There are now only three States, NSW, Victoria and Western Australia, who have yet to ban lightweight plastic bags, it's imperative that those State Governments to act to ban the bag.
Removing plastic bags in Australia is a significant first step in reducing this countries disposable plastic use and reducing threats to wildlife. Over 3 million tonnes of plastic is used in Australia every year, with most disposable plastics either landfilled or littered. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 120,000 tonnes of disposable plastic is littered annually. That is equivalent to 2.4 kgs per person in Australia.
We do however think Woolworths and Coles should go beyond their plan to introduce thicker bags at a 15 cents charge and urge that they replace this with fully proven reusable bag so the whole community adapts and use only genuinely reusable bags.
We recommend that supermarkets and other retailers see this ban as the first step in a movement to reduce the use of single use, disposable plastics. A review into plastic packaging of fresh food should be instigated with the aim of removing or replacing all unnecessary packaging.
The Boomerang Alliance has welcomed the tabling of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill 2017 into the Queensland Parliament today as one of the most important environment protection measures in a generation. The bill legislates a ban on lightweight plastics bags and the introduction of a Container Refund Scheme, both in 2018.
The combination of a ban on bags, a refund on cans and bottles and associated public litter awareness will make Queensland a cleaner, safer and more resource-efficient state.
The Parliament needs to pass the legislation as soon as practical to allow the timely introduction of both measures in July 2018.
View our Media Release HERE
The next few weeks are critical for increasing community pressure on the three states that are yet to commit to a ban on single use plastic bags before the annual environment ministers meeting held at the end of June.
We need your continued support to help increase community pressure on New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria to ensure that all Australian states commit to a ban. As part of our accelerating campaign in the runup to the meeting:
Please join the Twitter Storm on Tuesday 23 May (World Turtle Day) from 12pm till 1pm AEST.
A twitter storm is a tweet event where many people post at the same time on a topic using a designated hashtag in order to make the hashtag trend. This will be noticed by the state Premiers and also help spread the message through social media.
Please do not 'retweet' but instead copy/paste the suggested tweets or make up your own with #BanTheBag and #NoMoreExcuses hashtags and @GladysB @MarkMcGowanMP and @DanielAndrewsMP. You can also attach pictures on littered bags.
The suggested tweets are:
The community is ready. Australia needs to #BanTheBag #NoMoreExcuses @GladysB @MarkMcGowanMP @DanielAndrewsMP
Australia needs to #BanTheBag #NoMoreExcuses @GladysB @MarkMcGowanMP @DanielAndrewsMP
We need to protect our oceans! It's time to #BanTheBag #NoMoreExcuses @GladysB @MarkMcGowanMP @DanielAndrewsMP
#NoMoreExcuses @GladysB @MarkMcGowanMP @DanielAndrewsMP We demand a ban on plastic bags! #BanTheBag
#NoMoreExcuses @GladysB @MarkMcGowanMP @DanielAndrewsMP Stop killing our oceans! It's time to #BanTheBag
Do the right thing @GladysB @MarkMcGowanMP @DanielAndrewsMP #NoMoreExcuses #BanTheBag
Step up and #BanTheBag @GladysB @MarkMcGowanMP @DanielAndrewsMP #NoMoreExcuses
Plastic kills – help protect our oceans now! It's time to #BanTheBag #NoMoreExcuses @GladysB @MarkMcGowanMP @DanielAndrewsMP
Don't pass the buck @GladysB @MarkMcGowanMP @DanielAndrewsMP #BanTheBag
Communities Taking Control - Wollongong Taskforce. If you wish to be involved in reducing single-use plastics across the entire Wollongong community please join the taskforce! We are looking to introduce our plan to Wollongong during Plastic Free July this year however information in the lead up will be send out with details on how you can get involved, including volunteering opportunities, information nights and links to printout materials to engage with local businesses. An overview of the Campaign can be found here.
For those looking to play a more active role in the development of the initiative, email andy.gray[at]boomerangalliance.org.au for more information.Sign up
As part of our campaign and to help increase political pressure we are asking you to write a letter to a newspaper editor of your choice.
Please express your concerns about the dangers of single use plastic bags. By spreading our message and adding a personal touch - you will make a difference!
If you have not written a letter to the editor before - here's a few helpful hints to get you started:
> Look up published Letters to the Editor in your chosen newspaper. This is a fantastic way to gauge the writing styles that appeal to that paper's editor.
> You should also check to see if the newspaper has guidelines for length and other various aspects.
> Use a personal story or illustration to explain why NSW, VIC and WA should ban the bag.
For more information and helpful hints on how to write a letter to the editor, head here. Let us know if your letter has been published and we will share it on social media.
It’s time to take action. NSW, VIC and WA need to adopt this positive protection measure and save countless marine animals!