National bottle deposit scheme on political agenda

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th September 2011

At a meeting held in Canberra today, federal environment ministers failed to reach agreement on a national recycling deposit scheme for packaged beverage containers.

Under the proposed scheme, a 10-cent fee would be levied and refunded when containers are recycled.

A similar scheme was introduced to South Australia in 1977 and is still in place today, allowing South Australians to collect a deposit for each beverage container they return to a recycling depot. The Northern Territory is also planning on introducing a container deposit scheme to be implemented in that jurisdiction in January 2012.

The meeting of ministers took place in the ministerial forum of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) and was considering a proposal first formulated in July 2010 when the environment ministers agreed to develop a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CRIS) on potential measures to increase packaging resource recovery rates and decrease packaging litter.

According to a statement passed on to Australian Food News today, the ministers today “endorsed the options to be analysed in the CRIS and reaffirmed that there will be open and transparent stakeholder consultation on the container deposit scheme.” In other words, no concensus was reached.

The July 2010 Consultation Regulation Impact Statement states that a national CDS scheme would have “the potential to increase the national packaging recycling rate by 8 percentage points, as well as reducing litter by 6 per cent by item, and 19 per cent by volume”.

Commenting on today’s meeting, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam criticised the outcome, “We’ve had two Senate inquiries, countless reports supporting a national container deposit scheme, then yet another year of analysis. South Australia’s use of container deposits for more than 30 years was a case study in the success of the system.”

Senator Ludlam also said, “Australians use more than 12 billion drink containers every year. Every day the Commonwealth delays the introduction of a national container deposits system means an extra nine million recyclable containers – each day – going into landfill or being left as litter.”

Meanwhile, the Northern Territory deposit scheme due to be introduced in 2012, has been generating considerable heat.

Coca-Cola Amatil, Australia’s largest beverage bottler, today told Australian Food News that the scheme would be “expensive” and “inefficient”.

Coca-Cola Amatil’s Director of Media and Public Affairs, Sally Loane said, “There are better ways of achieving more recycling and reducing litter, in terms of convenience, cost and most importantly ways which will not undermine Australia’s world class kerbside recycling schemes.

“In 2011 CCA has invested $1.2 million into public place recycling infrastructure, a contribution we’re looking to extend through a new industry recycling infrastructure fund. This will also include support for remote area recycling and litter programs.

“We believe this is a more efficient and cost effective solution to away-from-home recycling than container deposit schemes, which will be very expensive and inefficient,” Ms Loane said.