Majority of Victorians want a container deposit scheme but government not convinced

Masses of crushed cans for recycling. Source: AAP

Majority of Victorians support the idea of a container deposit scheme for recycling drink bottles and cans.

Majority of Victorians (84 per cent) would support the introduction of a container deposit scheme.

Only seven per cent were opposed to the idea, with nine per cent still undecided. 

An online survey of more than 500 people was commissioned by the Total Environment Centre provided the result. 

But the Daniel Andrews led government said it was not convinced it should adopt a CDS, despite being one of two states in Australia not to have a system in place - the other being Tasmania. 

Victoria's Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said while she wasn't sold on the necessity of the scheme, she would be monitoring the performance of CDS in other states.

In 1987, Victoria had a Cash for Cans scheme, with ads at the time featuring Australian tennis player Pat Cash.

What is a Container Deposit Scheme?

A container deposit scheme provides a financial incentive (usually 10 cents, but can be as much as 25 cents) to consumers who return their drink containers for recycling. The 10 cent amount is included in the initial purchase price for the beverage and is reclaimed when consumers return the container to a recycling station. The accepted containers can include PET (polyethylene), aluminium and glass bottle waste.

Beverage companies and consumers - rather than local councils or taxpayers - pay for the administration of the scheme. Income can also be generated for charities.

Environmental group Boomerang Alliance say every minute 15,000 bottles and cans are littered or landfilled in Australia.

Plastic bottles used for water and soft drink also contributes to the global problem of marine plastics pollution, which UN Environment estimates cause economic damage of $17.5 billion AUD per year.

How much plastic is in the world's oceans?
How much plastic is in the world's oceans?

Government promises resilient recycling sector

Instead of a CDS, Victoria has announced a $37 million package to boost its recycling sector and encourage the greater recycling of waste products.

The package will include an education campaign for households.

Ms D'Ambrosio said the government's strategy is to create new markets for recycled products, while also cutting the total amount of recycling going to landfill.

The announcement comes after China's decision earlier this year to restrict the import of recyclable materials.

Under the plan, the quality of up to 100,000 tonnes of recycled material would be improved.

This would provide a chance for businesses to add value to their recyclable material, so it can meet China's new requirements for higher quality material.

Consumers would also be educated about what products can be recycled, potentially cutting contaminated recycling going to landfill by about 40,000 tonnes a year.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio says the state government is monitoring the performance of container deposit schemes in other states.
Victorian Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio says the state government is monitoring the performance of container deposit schemes in other states.

"We're delivering a new plan for the future of recycling in Victoria - to reduce waste and costs to households, and build a more resilient recycling sector in Victoria," Ms D'Ambrosio said.

Single-use plastic bags will be banned in Victoria by the end of 2019 and a ban on drinking straws will be considered by a newly-formed working group, she added.

Greens, environmental groups push for CDS

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said he was unsure whether "throwing $30 million and hoping it will go away is a solution" to Victoria's recycling issue. 

"I would be interested to see whether or not there is a cost being passed on to ... homeowners," he said.

The opposition does not support a container deposit scheme.

The Victorian Greens said the announcement was a step in the right direction but there were "glaring omissions" such as the failure to include a CDS. 

The Greens want a CDS where the beverage industry would fund the scheme through sales of their product.

A Senate report from the Environment and Communications References Committee has recommended a national CDS be introduced. 

"The committee is of the view that a national container deposit scheme would ensure a uniform approach to glass recycling, with a reduction in contaminated kerbside recycling, and certainty to industry and the community," the report read.

The report pointed to the success of Australia's longest running CDS in South Australia, introduced more than 40 years ago.

The report cites evidence that CDS "improve the quality of both eligible materials and what remains in kerbside programs".

Source SBS News

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