Late last month the Australian Senate released its report “Toxic Tide” investigating the impacts of plastic on the Australian marine environment. In a wide sweeping series of recommendations, the Senators called for all states and territories to adopt container deposit systems (CDS) by 2020.
After receiving hundreds of submissions and heard testimony from leading scientists, government and community groups the senate concluded that “the magnitude of marine plastic pollution in Australia and Australian waters ... is a problem that cannot be ignored and one that is growing year-on-year.”
Recognising that beverage containers were a major source, the Report noted that “Container deposit schemes were seen as a simple and cost effective way to change consumer behavior, and to reduce the number of beverage containers found in the marine environment. The Senators believed that there was “compelling argument that CDS encourage widespread participation in recycling through the provision of a financial incentive.” The participating Senators identified that there was strong evidence that a CDS could reduce plastics entering Australian waterways by some 35,000 tonnes p.a.
While acknowledging the need to be sensitive towards the costs of a scheme, Senators rejected the beverage industry’s alarmist view of CDS saying it was “skeptical of many of the arguments put forward by industry” while also highlighting evidence that kerbside recycling and container deposit schemes can co-exist. In calling for immediate action, the Senate did not accept industry alternatives like the controversial Thirst for Good program proposed in NSW - highlighting the failure of similar programs overseas.
Debate over – Its time for Cash for Containers.
Dave West, National Policy Director