NSW We've done it!
In a huge win for the environment, NSW is getting the Container Deposit Scheme that really works. The one that turns drink bottles and cans into cash.
Under the new scheme reverse vending machines and bottle collection centres will provide an immediate 10 cent "reward" for every empty container deposited. In South Australia, where the scheme has been in place for the past 30 years, 80% of cans and bottles are recycled. It's expected to be the same here.
And that's not all - charities, clubs and community groups have also hit the jackpot. For them access to extra funds is just one clean-up away. In SA $60 million was distributed in this way last year alone.
It might not have been this way. The NSW government was fiercely lobbied by Coca-Cola and other big drink companies to implement their questionable Thirst for Good scheme. This scheme provided no direct reward, so no incentive, for people to recycle bottles and cans. Instead, if enough drink containers were collected a donation would be made to a pre-allocated or club.
The drink companies fought hard for their no-incentive scheme, but the community fought hard too.
"With Premier Mike Baird as our local MP, the Manly community has more influence than most," Good For Manly Cllr Candy Bingham said. "Congratulations to everyone in the Manly community, especially Manly Environment Centre and Greens Cllr Cathy Griffin, who fought so hard to get Mr Beard to make the right choice. Groups such as the Boomerang Alliance ran a strong campaign for change."
Here’s how the Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) will work:
• 10 cents will be paid for each drink container returned to a depot or reverse vending machine.
• The containers must display a NSW CDS label, and be between 150ml and 3 litres.
• Wine, beer, milk, and juice will not be eligible for the scheme.
• Depots will be both large-scale operations and pop-ups.
• Anyone returning a container is eligible for a refund.
• Drinks containers can still be disposed of in council-run waste and recycling collection schemes, but the household won’t receive a refund. The 10c will go to the councils and will go towards waste collection costs in their local area.
• The 10c refund, administration and handling fees, will be covered by the beverage industry.
Next? A campaign for the inclusion of wine & beer bottles, which are a major issue in Manly's public areas.
It's crunch time for drink cans and plastic bottles.
Public submissions into the State Government’s container deposit scheme have recently closed. The debate has been feisty, with environment and industry groups backing totally different schemes.
The “Cash for Containers” scheme, supported by environment and many community groups, is modelled on schemes used successfully in South Australia and many European countries.
It involves installing 500-800 reverse vending machines across the state, which would provide a 10 cent “reward” for every empty container deposited. In South Australia, where the scheme has been in place since 1977, 80% of drink containers are recycled, and a huge number of community groups have benefited from funds raised through container collection campaigns.
The alternative “Thirst for Good” model is supported by Coca-Cola Amatil and other major players in the industry. It does away with the immediate cash reward, and substitutes “an annual investment by the beverage industry in a suite of programs aimed at reducing little”. Coca Cola says the industry will contribute $15 million each year in "both financial and non-financial incentives”, but environment groups say it will be more like $1 - 2 million.
Green groups, including Boomerang Alliance, Greenpeace and Clean-up, have rubbished the plan, saying it’s "a PR exercise” not a container deposit scheme. Good for Manly agrees.
“The crucial part of a successful scheme is to give cash directly to the person who has brought the drink container back, as an immediate financial incentive,” Good For Manly Cllr Candy Bingham said.
“That makes all the difference.”
The proposals will be considered by Permier and local member Mike Baird and Environment Minister Mark Speakman, with input from an advisory committee, with the government committed to have a container deposit scheme in place by next July.
The two schemes as seen by environment group Boomerang Alliance
Cash for Containers - the powerful drink container recycling strategy - will go ahead in NSW.
Early this month premier and local MP Mike Baird announced a cash-back scheme for drink bottles and cans. Customers will be required to pay a 10c "deposit" when they buy a bottle or can, which they will then be able to reclaim at a reverse vending machine or community recycling centre. Schools and charities are likely to benefit too, by collecting containers and cashing them in to raise funds.
The decision is the result of a long-running campaign local government and green groups including the Boomerang Alliance, with the Manly community playing a major role.
Manly Greens Councillor Cathy Griffin mounted a sustained and powerful campaign of her own. Almost every day for the last 12 months Cr Griffin has picked up bottles from the beach at East Esplanade and presented them to Mr Baird's office - just 100m away.
Her technique demonstrated the almost unbelievable size of the problem. Australians buy a whopping 15 billion bottles or cans every year. And every hour we throw away or send to landfill almost one million of them. Drink containers are now the most commonly littered item in our parks and beaches with tourist areas, like Manly, particularly feeling the pain.
In NSW we recycle less than 50% of our drink containers. In comparison South Australians, who have had a cash back scheme for decades, recycle 80% of theirs. With Cash for Containers, it's expected that NSW will get to an 80% recycling level too.
That's great news for Manly - both from an aesthetic and financial point of view. Popular East Esplanade Reserve is just one place that's littered with bottles and cans every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. At the moment it costs the Council a fortune to clear it away - hours of council workers' time, and then $110 per tonne tip fees.
The new scheme is a great start although it is expected that it will be sometime before legislation is in place. Meanwhile Australia's recycling industry still has a long way to go.
Our existing recycling capability is so limited that a lot of our used PET plastic bottles are sent to China, where their ultimate fate is unclear. Green groups hope the Cash for Containers scheme will provide a much-needed impetus to help our recycling industry grow.
So much of the rubbish left around Manly is bottles.
"Australians consume drinks in over 12 billion containers a year. Only half of these are recycled, mostly collected via kerbside and much less, away from home (food halls, events, public spaces). The other half are littered or landfilled representing a big waste of resources. If they were recycled via a Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) that is cash for the return of containers - the energy, water and raw materials used in and pollution from container production would be significantly less.
In addition thousands of new jobs would be created; charities helped; and crucially, hundreds of new convenient drop-off centres established - at no cost to government. They have done it successfully for 30 years in South Australia and now the Northern Territory, why can't we do it in NSW?" Quoted from the Boomerang Alliance. More details on their website.
Be sure to read the comment on the blog below from Councillor Cathy Griffin, who has initiated this discussion.
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.