Opinion divided on container deposit scheme

LOCAL politicians and environment groups have praised the State Government’s new container deposit scheme, but opposition members and lobby groups have expressed concerns.

The government announced it would adopt a container deposit scheme, CDS – where people can receive a 10 cent refund for every aluminium, glass and plastic drink container returned for recycling – by 2023.

Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas said a CDS would create hundreds of jobs in collection centres, transport and logistics and support services such as technology management.

She pointed to similar schemes in Queensland and New South Wales, which she said had led to the creation of between 600 and 700 jobs.

Ms Thomas said a Victorian CDS would boost the state’s recycling system.

“We want to help communities look after our local environment by being better equipped to tackle litter and increase recycling and now they have the chance to help shape how it works,” she said.

“Victoria’s container deposit scheme will be an exciting opportunity for all Victorians to play a role in improving recycling, cutting waste and tackling litter and importantly, it’ll create jobs across the state.”

The proposed system is a ‘split responsibility’ model, which separates the funding and operational branches of the scheme.

The Boomerang Alliance, a coalition of 52 environmental and charity groups that advocates for recycling and environmental issues, expressed its support for the Victorian scheme.

Alliance director Jeff Angel said Victoria was on track to have Australia’s best 10-cent refund scheme for drink containers and welcomed the announcement of the split governance model.

“The government’s preferred approach encourages the beverage companies to be accountable for the pollution they produce, and also creates an independent operator whose focus is on maximising refund points so we can get the best of both worlds, with good engagement of drink companies and a clear focus on collecting as many used bottles and cans as possible,’’ he said.

“It will be important to have a high level of convenience for people and groups to get their refunds – after all, it’s their money.

“There will be multiple benefits to the community and businesses including millions of dollars to charities from donated refunds and running collection points, many small business opportunities, and reduced waste management costs for pubs, clubs and restaurants.

“While the Victorian government has recommended the best scheme for the community, there is no doubt the beverage giants will fight for their own, inferior version.

“In states where the beverage giants have run the CDS, we have seen lower container returns, and it’s essential that the beverage industry’s focus on retaining profits does not contaminate the scheme’s capacity to offer the best level of refund service.’’

But Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change Bridget Vallence said the scheme was the government’s attempt to ‘play catch up after years of inaction’.

“The Andrews Labor Government has failed to act on Victoria’s waste and recycling crisis and allowed hundreds of thousands of tonnes of recycling to be sent to landfill,” she said.

Lobby group VicRecycle, which was established by drinks groups Coca-Cola Amatil and Lion, claimed 775 fewer jobs would be created in Victoria under the government’s proposed scheme.

Director Jeff Maguire said community organisations such as football clubs and charities would be $64 million better off under a producer-responsible scheme.

“Victoria needs a scheme that is open to greater participation by small business and local community groups, increases recycling and has benefits that flow through to all Victorian communities,” he said.

People can find out more and have their say on the proposed scheme by visiting engage.vic.gov.au/container-deposit-scheme.