Deposit container legislation put on ice

Posted by Isobel Drake on 18th September 2009

A Senate inquiry report released yesterday has advised that the Container Deposit Legislation not proceed at this stage, a conclusion that was welcomed by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

The private members Bill, Environment Protection – Beverage Container Deposit and Recovery Scheme – for Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) in Australia, has the support of the Greens and Family First and would see the introduction of a 10 cent levy on each beverage container sold in the country, which can be recovered by consumers when they recycle it (similar to what is seen in South Australia).

The report said that, while there was some support for CDL, debate around the bill and the disagreement from various groups, including the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC), highlighted “how complex this area of policymaking can be”.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said the report highlighted that any benefits of CDL could not be easily quantified.

“The findings show that CDL is not as simple as it may seem and is a far more complex issue than many people believe,” Ms Carnell suggested. “The Senate committee’s findings are a sensible outcome for Australian consumers, who would be forced to bear the costs of a CDL and be inconvenienced by no longer being able to place containers in their recycling bins for kerbside collection.”

Industry research has indicated that CDL is a more expensive option compared with the industry-led kerbside recycling and packaging waste partnership programs – under the National Packaging Covenant co-regulatory arrangement – which are already underway in Australia, the AFGC advised.

Under the current recycling approach, Australia’s packaging recycling rates have risen from below 40 per cent to almost 60 per cent over the past five years. The Covenant has to capacity to divert an additional 500,000 tonnes of packaging from landfill each year.

Conclusions from the inquiry included two final recommendations: 1) “The committee recommends that the EPHC advance its analysis of container deposit schemes without delay, ensuring that any further modelling draws on data derived from existing container deposit schemes and includes consideration of the model outlined in this bill.” And;

2) “The committee recommends that the bill not be passed at this time.”

Australia’s Environment Ministers will determine the future direction of Australia’s packaging and recycling frameworks at their November meeting.

To read the submissions to the inquiry and the final report please visit: