National container deposit scheme just makes 'cents'

22 Jul 2020

Posted October 16, 2018

Victoria and Tasmania need to stop dragging their feet in the war against waste and commit to a national container deposit scheme, the Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie told Parliament yesterday.

In a motion lodged in the House of Representatives, Rebekha called on the Government to work with the States and Territories to implement a national scheme before the next election.

“South Australians have had container deposits for four decades now and we cannot understand the reticence of the rest of the country to embrace this litter-reducing measure when the benefits to the environment are enormous and well documented,” Rebekha said.

“Young people in particular, in my community of Mayo and across SA, are also supportive of the scheme.

“At so many of the schools I have visited, they have asked me to help bring about a container deposit scheme across Australia and they just do not understand why it isn’t happening already.

“I congratulate the Northern Territory, and now the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales, on their successful container deposit schemes, and I welcome the upcoming introduction of schemes in Queensland and Western Australia but Victoria and Tasmania are dragging their heels when we need to act now.”

Based on figures from the NSW’s Environment Protection Authority, it is estimated that Australians use more than 13.1 billion beverage containers a year, which represents over 35.9 million beverage containers used every day.

South Australia’s container deposit legislation came into effect in 1977 and now the State leads the nation in the recovery, recycling and litter reduction of beverage containers with an overall return rate of 79.9 per cent.

In 2016-17, South Australian collection depots recovered almost 587 million beverage containers (43,298 tonnes) for recycling and over $58 million was refunded to South Australians, especially to community groups, charities, and sporting clubs.

South Australia now has a recycling rate for cans and bottles of up to 85 per cent, while the rate in other states is less than half of this.

In 2012 a major survey showed 98 per cent of South Australians supported a national container deposit scheme.

“The SA container deposit scheme is a simple and effective policy,” Rebekha said.

“It raises environmental awareness of the problems of waste and has built a culture of intolerance to litter.

“You have only had to travel interstate since our deposit scheme began to see the big difference in the cleanliness of public places between SA and the other States.

“Beverage containers account for less than three per cent of litter in SA, compared to 43 per cent in New South Wales before it adopted its own scheme in 2017.

“The Northern Territory has seen a 50 per cent decrease in beverage container litter since the introduction of their container deposit scheme.

“I call on the Tasmanian Premier and the Victorian Premier to adopt what is an effective and popular policy, and for the Federal Government to commit to helping facilitate a national container deposit scheme, so that all Australians can benefit from what generations of South Australian kids have known is a good idea for more than four decades. It just makes cents!”

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