Container Refund Scheme and Plastic Bag Ban Becomes Law in Queensland

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Container Refund Scheme will be delayed from its scheduled start date of July 1, 2018 until November 1, 2018 to give collection infrastructure more time to be ready. 

On September 5th 2017, we welcomed the unanimous passage of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill through the Queensland Parliament. The bill confirms a Plastic Bag Ban and Container Refund Scheme (CRS) will be introduced into Queensland in November 2018.

These new policies represent the most significant litter and plastic pollution measures introduced into Queensland in generations. It's 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.

Factsheets and Links

The DEHP has released factsheets about the CRS and bag ban which outlines how they will operate and what they cover. You can click below to download a copy.

CRS.jpg          bags.jpg

For more information on the Container Refund Scheme, including a full list of eligible containers, CLICK HERE

For more information on the plastic bag ban, CLICK HERE

To register for further updates from the DEHP, you can sign up to  WASTENOTES

If you are from a Not-For-Profit group or community organisation or school and would like to learn more about fundraising through collecting containers as donations or setting up a Container Refund Point, CLICK HERE

For further information and questions, please email Kellie at kellie.lindsay@boomerangalliance.org.au

 

What Exactly is a Container Refund 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 refund 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 Refund 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

Boomerang Alliance's Position on the Container Refund Scheme

With over 40 such systems around the world producing huge benefits, the Container Refund Scheme is clearly a good move for Queensland. As long as a World's Best Practice Scheme is introduced, and in combination with the plastic bag ban, we expect litter and plastic pollution could be halved. Our position on a World's Best Practice Scheme includes:

  • All glass, plastic and aluminium beverage containers between 150ml and 3 litres capacity (with the exception of milk, fruit juice and health tonics) will attract a 10 cent refund, when returned to an approved collection point. 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.

 

Check out our resources on plastic pollution