The long road to 10c refunds
As I write this on the eve of the NSW Container Deposit Scheme (Return & Earn) coming into effect [on December 1] I have mixed feelings. Relief that we have made it to this point that many told me would never happen, and impatience for a world-class system.
It has been a long journey, campaigning for 10-cent refunds on bottles and cans as a proven solution to the 8 billion or so that currently end up in landfill or in the environment. About 160 million beverage containers are littered in NSW every year. They will now be worth $16 million in refunds!
The logic is that an empty bottle or can, now worth 10 cents, will no longer be thoughtlessly thrown away. It will have value. This has been successful in the Northern Territory which has had refunds for five years, doubling its recycling rate. South Australia has led the nation with a 40-year history of refunds on single-use bottles, and many still remember nationwide refunds on refillable glass bottles.
So how is Return & Earn going to work? Eventually, there will be several ways to redeem your 10-cent refund. Reverse vending machines (RVMs, many in Woolworths car parks), over-the-counter collection points (like shops and cafes) and before too long, I hope, drive-through bulk drop-off centres where families, individuals, community groups, sports clubs etc. can take a boot load, trailer load or just a big bag!
You can check out the location of these collection points at http://returnandearn.org.au. More are being added every day and you can still register to be a collection point or host a RVM. So if you want more near you, get out and talk to potential site owners and email email@example.com to register your interest.
Jeff Angel, Boomerang Alliance, says: “The time to install collection sites has been short … It was never possible to have all sites in place on day one, and evidence from schemes elsewhere shows there is a gradual process as the best sites and customer demand are proven over time. Nevertheless, some consumers will justifiably be frustrated, but it doesn’t mean you lose the value of the refund – the containers can be stored.”
The convenience of collection points has always been important and we will continue to push for a world class-system. There is one RVM per 3,200 Germans but the NSW government is still only aiming for 500 collection points, equalling one per 15,000 NSW residents, in an area four times larger.
So it’s your choice – keep using the council recycling bin and know that your council can use that refund money to improve waste services in your community or collect the containers and take them to your nearest collection point when it opens or donate to a local good cause.
You can continue to follow Boomerang Alliance’s campaigns to reduce plastic pollution on Facebook or our website: www.boomerangalliance.org.au.