Your hard work is paying off! NSW, QLD, ACT and WA all have committed to introduce a deposit scheme on bottles and cans in the years to come. We now need your support to get Victoria to join them. It doesn't matter if you live in another state, taking action today will help protect our wonderful oceans and clean up Australia.Read more
The Boomerang Alliance has disclosed a leaked excerpt of an internal report to the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC) showing misleading plastic packaging recycling rates. The APC is an industry sponsored initiative which has been used by the beverage industry to counteract the push for cash for containers.Read more
Did you know that a tyre dump on fire can burn for months and even years, spewing toxic pollution into the air? Tyres are also the perfect habitat for disease carrying mosquitos, and have been implicated in the spread of dengue and ross river fever. Tyres are recognised internationally as one of the most hazardous wastes.
Until recently the used tyres from our cars and trucks were dumped either in Australia or in developing countries in Asia where they were often burnt in primitive incinerators. We estimate over 48 million tyres have been dumped in Australian bushland or in abandoned warehouses (which often catch fire in suspicious circumstances), contributing to a poor recycling rate of 16%. Baled used tyres were also being exported to Asia, causing significant pollution and disease problems.
The reasons why Australia has had such a low recycling rate include lax laws, disinterested retailers, undercutting of legit recyclers by rogue operators, and the absence of any product stewardship scheme (despite being promised one in 1990!).
So Boomerang undertook an intensive campaign during 2013-15 by active investigations, applying market pressure and lobbying ministers and regulators. We uncovered numerous examples of illegal activity, in particular breaching of fire safety rules and planning consents. Rogue tyre collectors and so-called recyclers often simply ignore safe procedures and rarely have insurance or even fire hydrants. This allows them to undercut the charges of genuine and safe recyclers. Over a five year period the rogues and their cheap disposal options (dumping or export) actually drove several legit Australian recyclers out of business.
To end this we have worked with the Australian Tyre Recyclers Association (ATRA) to clean up their members and adopt independent, monthly auditing.
We have also pressured the tyre dealers (such as Bridgestone) to only send their used tyres to genuine and safe recyclers. To their credit they have instituted a rigorous audit program of their stores and insisted on only using proven collectors and recyclers. Groups like Bob Jane were already compliant, and other retailers soon joined in. It was great to see market intervention by an NGO working so well to make rapid changes.
Unfortunately Australian Governments had dropped the ball on regulating the industry. They had weak rules and made minimal compliance effort. We pressed NSW, Victoria and Queensland to get tough on the industry. Over the last year we have seen new laws come into operation and hundreds of inspections by environment protection, local council and fire safety officers (and many fines and clean up orders).
As a result of our campaign, tyre recycling grew to almost 50% over 18 months building green business. The Australian government also launched Tyre Stewardship Australia, an industry sponsored scheme. It has some serious teething problems and we are insisting they implement high standards before accrediting recyclers and retailers to use their logo and claim environmental credentials. The Australian government is in the process of banning export of used tyres by 2021 with the strong support from ATRA and Boomerang.
We have also produced “Tyre Life, a comprehensive guide to managing Australian tyres’, the most thorough report on used tyre stewardship yet. It sets the standards the community and the environment deserve (you can find it at www.tyrelife.org.au).
It’s been a great success so far, but over coming years we’ll continue to watchdog the industry, regulators and Tyre Stewardship Australia.
Our aim is make Australia be the first continent on the planet to adopt Cash for Containers – and we are almost there! Starting with South Australia in 1977, and now followed by the Northern Territory, NSW, ACT, QLD and WA, we have only Tasmania and Victoria to implement a scheme - before declaring a continental Cash for Containers.
We know that a Cash for Containers scheme slashes litter rates; increases beverage container recycling and jobs; and provides opportunities for community-based fundraising.
South Australia is routinely regarded as the least littered state. The CSIRO estimated that beverage litter (as a result of the scheme) was about a third of other states, In NSW since the introduction of the container scheme in 2017, over 4.5 billion containers have been collected and container litter has reduced by 57%. In QLD, over 1 billion containers have been collected since 2018 and litter has reduced by 35%. Hundreds of jobs have been created.
- Tasmania and Victoria are working on the design of their schemes and we intend to actively participate in the design of best practice schemes to deliver the maximum outcomes for recycling, consumer convenience and efficiency.
- Wine bottles should be eligible containers in all states
- Promotion of recycled content in all beverage containers
- Review the operations in all states
A Long Campaign
This problem really began in the 1970s when beverage companies like Coca Cola introduced the 'disposable' drink container, ending the returnable bottle system which had put a refundable deposit on each bottle – known as a Container Deposit Scheme (CDS). As these 'disposable' containers flooded the market, the litter plague quickly overwhelmed parks, waterways and public spaces. The community called for the return of the ‘bottle deposit’ but governments and industry instead blamed the consumer for discarding single-use containers, and they funded anti-litter campaigns instead and shifting the cleanup costs to councils and ratepayers.
Nevertheless, local councils and communities across Australia continued to fight with catch cries including ‘Bring Back the Deposit’ and 'We Want Cash for Containers'.
What is a Container Deposit Scheme?
Container Deposit Schemes (also known as Cash for Containers, Container Deposit Legislation or Container Refund Schemes) involve the addition of a small, refundable deposit being added to the price of a beverage at the point of sale. Once the beverage has been drunk and the container is empty, consumers and collectors can then return the container to a collection point, where they receive a refund of the deposit. It aims to reduce the amount of beverage container litter and increase the amount of recycling by using a financial incentive (10c in Australia).
Despite what some naysayers might want you to believe, a Container Deposit is NOT a 'tax'. The government does not get the money and the entire deposit is refunded when the consumer returns the container to a collection point for recycling.
What are the benefits of a Container Deposit Scheme?
Container Deposit Schemes have environmental and social benefits. These include:
Currently wine and spirits are not included in the CDSs - we are lobbying for their inclusion.
Learn More About Cash for Containers Around Australia
A Brief Campaign History
Over the last 16 years, tens of thousands of people have helped our Cash for Containers campaign with letters to and meetings with MPs, signing petitions, media events and actions, community stalls and clean-ups; and we have lobbied governments; countered industry misinformation; and developed a best practice Container Deposit Scheme.
2004 – 05: National Packaging Covenant (NPC) is renewed. It was the weak industry alternative to regulation like a CDS. We fight for targets and succeed – but the NPC was never going to work. Ministers warned a CDS could be around the corner.
2008: WA election. The then ALP Government promises a CDS after a positive taskforce inquiry, but delays a commitment. However, they were voted out. The drinks industry runs an effective insiders and public campaign, threatening marginal seats.
Mid-2010: Environment ministers meet in Darwin under federal minister Peter Garrett and announce a national study… the first of three. Initially, it was into beverage containers including a CDS, but then got expanded to all litter – a common tactic to diminish the importance of container deposits.
February 2011: After a brave campaign by the local community – with our participation – the NT Parliament unanimously passes its CDS law.
January 2012: The NT CDS is implemented.
December 2012: Coca Cola, Lion and Schweppes challenges the NT law in the Federal Court (surely one of the most unpopular corporate actions in recent years).
February 2013: QLD signs up to the National Bin Network – the industry’s latest alternative to a CDS – the day before environment ministers meet to discuss a national regulatory impact statement into options to deal with beverage and other litter. Despite this potentially fatal move by QLD and the industry, the ministers still proceed to the formal review process of a broad range of options including a CDS.
March 2013: Coca Cola win in the Federal Court and cancel their participation in the scheme, hoping it will collapse. However, the NT Government financially backs the CDS by supplying redeemed deposits/handling fees as they seek to remedy the process flaw in the law and obtain mutual recognition from all the other states. Once achieved, there is a full restart in August 2013.
Mid-2013: Vic Premier Napthine endorses a national CDS and keeps pushing over the year – the possibility of joint NSW/Vic action emerges.
November 2014: As the Vic election gets close, Napthine loses courage, no doubt in the face of bad polls and industry threats to campaign on the (alleged) consumer cost of a CDS. Also the Commonwealth government ignores calls for national scheme.
However, we don’t give up! We push on – now fully focussed on getting state-by-state adoption of CDS with the Commonwealth path now deemed fruitless.
January 2015: QLD election, an ALP minority government is elected and implements its policy to investigate a CDS. LNP Opposition gives bipartisan support in 2016.
February 2015: Premier Baird announces his election policy to implement a container deposit system by 1 July 2017. ALP Opposition give bipartisan support.
April 2016: The Senate Inquiry into Marine Plastic reports endorses our solutions including demanding all states have a CDS by 2020 – otherwise the federal government should do it for them.
May 2016: We win in NSW with the NSW Government announcing a full scale CDS covering plastic, glass, LPB and metal drink containers.
June 2016: The QLD Government announces it will start a CDS in 2018, harmonising with NSW.
August 2016: WA Government announced it will implement a CDS.
September 2016: The ACT Government announces that the ACT CDS will commence early 2018.
February 2017: The NSW Government delays the NSW CDS from June 2017 to December 2017.
September 2017: QLD Parliament unanimously passes the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill, legislating a Container Refund Scheme (CRS) to be introduced into QLD (it starts November 2018). The bill also contained a best practise plastic bag ban (starts July 2018).
December 2017: The NSW CDS, ‘Return and Earn’, begins.
November 2018: The QLD CRS, ‘Containers for Change, begins.
December 2018: The NSW CDS reaches its first birthday and a milestone of 1 billion containers redeemed. Boomerang Alliance releases its report into the first year of operations, which can be downloaded by clicking HERE.
March 2019: The WA legislation passes parliament with the CDS to start in early 2020.
June 2019: Tasmania announces it will have a CDS by 2022.
February 2020: Victoria announces it will have a CDS by 2023.
Our policies are designed to create the infrastructure and laws that make recycling and protection of the environment effective and easy for households and businesses. We believe regulatory mechanisms, including bans, new laws, including greater responsibility by the makers of products; and consumer action, are needed to eliminate both toxic practices and waste products from polluting our ecosystems.
Cash For Containers
Efficient and low cost Container Deposit Systems (CDS) involving a 10-cent refund and significant use of automated sorting machines, by individual states with national harmonisation. A CDS has been proven worldwide to maximise the recycling of drink containers and minimise litter.
The removal of plastic bag, foodware and bottles, microplastic and nurdle threats to the environment can only be achieved with comprehensive and rapid regulatory and industry action, including the introduction of bans and alternative products.
Asian markets are rightly rejecting our contaminated recyclate meaning we have a big problem that can only be solved by growing our own reprocessing industry. Otherwise our hard work to recycle will end up in landfill or incinerated. Our key targets are - recycled content rules for packaging and other products to create a demand that justifies investment in new facilities; financial incentives and support; and government/business procurement to buy recycled.
New laws and corporate supply chain practises are needed to stop the illegal stockpiling and dumping of waste tyres; prevent the export of whole tyres to developing nations (where their breakdown causes significant pollution); and improve domestic recycling for new products. Stringent emission controls could facilitate the use of some chipped tyres for domestic energy, to avoid ongoing stockpiling and dumping, and help clean up legacy dumps, but only after maximum recycling.
Waste to Energy (WTE)
WTE is the one-off production of energy by subjecting waste to high temperatures via various technologies. It is not recycling. There is no thermal process to capture the embodied energy value of mixed waste that will not create significant pollution and toxic releases. We also caution against the serious risk of long term WTE contracts cannabalising resources that should be recycled. We may consider, on a case by case basis, use of the small amount of residue from best practice and maximised recycling of single material types, but only that which can demonstrate toxic pollution risks have been eliminated by pre-testing of the material.
Our research indicates that significant waste levies deter landfilling, and when also applied to waste to energy plants, make recycling more competitive by producing a key price signal. The receiver of the waste should carry the levy liability until it is genuinely recycled. The funds raised should be applied to recycling and environment protection programs.
In 2003 Dave West and a group of passionate people began to campaign for a container deposit system across Australia and decided to create an alliance among all sorts of environmental groups – from surfers to recyclers, to clean up and neighbourhood groups - to give local communities power and influence in their struggle to stem the massive waste of discarded resources polluting our playgrounds, parks, rivers and beaches. The Boomerang Alliance quickly grew from 9 groups and now comprises 53 national, state and local allies. Boomerang is an incorporated association and registered charity. Each of our allies has the right to their own policies, and decides the level of support they give to our campaigns.
MEET THE TEAM
Jeff Angel - Director
Toby Hutcheon - Queensland Manager
Kellie Lindsay - Program Manager, Plastic Free Places
Stephen Milton - Communication Officer
Rianti Bieler - Office Manager, Campaigner, IT & Research Support
Lisa Wriley - Community Campaigner
Birte Moliere - VIC CDS Campaign Coordinator
With our campaign and headlines in the last 12 months about illegal tyre dumps and fires, public health risks, fines, clean-up notices and prosecutions – responsible tyre stewardship is now on the agenda. Big changes are coming with tougher regulations and pressure from brands, governments and the community.Read more
Did you know that tens of millions of items of electronic waste, from laptops, to old monitors and TVs and smaller products – are dumped into landfill every year? They contain highly toxic materials as well as rare precious metals. Many other countries have had e-waste recycling schemes for years, but Australia lagged behind with a paltry 17% recycling rate for TVs and computers and much less for other items in 2012. It was just not good enough.
Computer monitors, for example, have lead in their cathode ray tubes, cadmium in their batteries, mercury in the back‐lamps for their LCD screens and beryllium in switches, motherboards and electrical conductors. Mobile phones have nickel in their springs and electrical contacts, flame retardant antimony as an alloying agent, and arsenic in their microelectronics. These critical elements are highly polluting in landfills where they come into contact with soil, air and water.
Quite rightly many people believe we should be recycling our used electronic items and not discarding them. Total Environment Centre and other members of the Boomerang Alliance ran a campaign for over seven years which resulted in the introduction of a new national scheme in 2012. The product stewardship scheme requires all producers or importers of TVs and computers to fund and meet ever increasing recycling targets.
The starting target was 30% - not very impressive in view of the avalanche of e-waste! It will gradually rise to 80% in 2030. While welcoming a legally enforceable scheme and the establishment of drop-off centres across the country, we are continuing to campaign for a much better outcome.
The federal government reviewed the scheme in 2015 and has now announced the targets will be increased to 50% (and rising), instead of 37% from 2016 , but it will still be many years before 80%, let alone 100% is achieved. A ban on e-waste to landfill will hurry them up. South Australia, the ACT and Victoria have instituted bans - check out the Vic policy assessment here.
The government and the industry also expect that local councils will pick up the slack in the interim. This means that ratepayers will pay, instead of the industry. This is not a good example of extended producer responsibility! We also need to bring other hand held electronic items and batteries into the program. A new group - EWaste Watch is also active.