AFGC disputes need for container deposit legislation

Posted by Isobel Drake on 26th February 2009

Australian Food and Grocery Council Chief Executive, Kate Carnell, has said today it was disappointing that high profile members of the community were still calling for ‘costly, outdated 1970s solutions to 2009 challenges’.

She was responding to continued calls from Clean Up Australia Chairman Ian Kiernan for governments to introduce container deposit legislation ahead of a Ministerial Beverage Container Investigation due in May this year.

Ms Carnell said that introducing container deposit systems would mean that consumers would have to pay more for their products and would undermine the viability of the kerbside recycling programs that collect a lot more than just bottles and cans, which only make up 3 per cent of the total waste stream.

“It’s a shame that Mr Kiernan and others are calling for a system that would increase costs to the community. We should all go back and live in the seventies with the cast of Underbelly if we want to adopt such an outdated and inefficient system,” she claimed. “It’s not just the deposit that would add costs there’s also the handling fees. Based on a 10 cent deposit and a four cent handling fee, the cost of a carton of beer would increase by $4 to $5.”

“Container deposit systems just don’t stack up in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. Victoria, which doesn’t have container deposit, recycles 20 kg more packaging per capita than South Australia, which does have container deposit.”

Ms Carnell said that it was really important to support and improve kerbside recycling and recycling in pubs and clubs. “The AFGC through the Packaging Stewardship Forum is already working on improving recycling from workplaces, the hospitality sector and shopping centres. With the National Packaging Covenant (NPC), we have a range of projects are underway to recycle an extra 60,000 tonnes of packaging each year and that includes beverage containers,” she advised.

The AFGC is a signatory to the NPC, which is supported by industry and all levels of government to reduce the environmental impact of packaging waste. The NPC has made significant progress towards meeting the 65 per cent packaging recycling rate target by 2010.

Ms Carnell suggested that this success was due to the strong commitment from industry and government to work together to reduce consumer packaging waste.