Container Deposit Scheme for the ACT

31 October 2017

Check against delivery


Madam Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Amendment Bill 2017, referred to the Assembly by Minister Fitzharris on 21 September of this year.

This Bill introduces a new container deposit scheme to commence in early 2018, which will encourage Canberrans to recycle.

This Bill amends the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Act 2016 and will establish the ACT Container Deposit Scheme.

When the scheme commences, Canberrans will have the opportunity to receive a cash reimbursement of 10 cents for returning eligible beverage containers to designated drop off points across the ACT.

Madam Speaker, Keep Australia Beautiful has been recognised as Australia’s independent litter prevention leader.

And this Bill is part of our continued commitment to reducing waste in line with the ACT Waste Management Strategy which outlines the Government’s goals of waste reduction and full resource recovery.

We know that providing incentives is one of the best ways to encourage recycling of drink containers.

Research by the City of Sydney found overwhelmingly that a refund-based scheme for beverage containers was the most motivating incentive for people to use a scheme.

Our scheme will align with the scheme being introduced in NSW.

The NSW Government released a discussion paper on a container deposit scheme for NSW in 2015 with extensive consultation.

More than 11,000 submissions were received with more than 98% respondents in favour of a refund scheme.

Our container deposit scheme is part of ACT Labor’s $23.3 million commitment to the Better Suburbs Package.

The committed $800,000 for a feasibility study into a recycling scheme for beverage containers was delivered in the Budget.

Through the Budget measure and this Bill - the ACT Labor Government is delivering on our election commitment for better suburbs across the ACT.

The better suburbs package is the ACT Government’s commitment to renew our city by investing in better roads, better community facilities and keeping our suburbs neat and tidy.

As the scheme is rolled out, the Government will be engaging with the community and will be seeking feedback regarding the progress of the CDS.

Madam Speaker, litter has a considerable impact on our natural environment.

Empty beverage containers are some of the most prevalent forms of litter on our roads, waterways and roadsides in our bush capital.

Further to the impact on the natural environment, these containers also pose a safety hazard to people who may be injured by glass bottles and packaging.

The 2015-2016 National Litter Index indicates that around 25% of ACT litter by volume comprises of beverage containers.

This problem is further compounded by the fact that in each plastic bottle we purchase, only around 7% is made from recycled materials.

The reason for this is not that there is insufficient recycled material available, but that any composition that includes a higher proportion of recycled material tends to result in a cloudy appearance.

There is a clear need for us to challenge how we view recycling and how recyclable materials can be put to use, especially as the National Litter Index found that there was an increase in litter in volumetric terms in the ACT.

ACT Labor is delivering on our commitment to deliver a container deposit scheme in order to address this issue and to maintain the natural beauty of our city, now and well into the future.

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Amendment Bill 2017 provides the framework for the new container deposit scheme.

The Bill establishes a scheme coordinator who will be responsible for administration, marketing and financial management.

The Bill provides for a new network operator to establish the infrastructure for the designated collection points.

The Bill also establishes what containers are eligible under the scheme and implement a cost recovery scheme.

The Bill sets out requirements for beverage container makers and suppliers to register eligible containers under the scheme and will also set out offences to safeguard the scheme from fraud or false claims for reimbursement.

It is proposed that the ACT will adopt the same eligibility as the NSW container deposit scheme meaning that most beverage containers with a volume between 150ml and 3 litres will be eligible.

Container materials that may be eligible include aluminium, steel, glass, liquid paperboard, PET and HDPE.

This Bill recognises that there is a shared responsibility between beverage container makers and suppliers, the Government and the wider community.

The Bill will require beverage container makers and suppliers to establish a system to collect and recover empty beverage containers.

The scheme will be funded by beverage container makers which will simultaneously encourage recycling, and reduce littering across the ACT.

This scheme will be effective because it delivers on these outcomes in two ways.

The container deposit scheme will reduce littering as members of the community will want to hold on to their used beverage containers to receive a refund payment under this scheme.

The scheme will also increase tidying up of our streets and recycling, by encouraging other members of the community to pick up litter for later redemption.

This scheme will simultaneously reduce littering, divert recyclables and reusable away from our environment and landfill, and will also encourage picking up litter in our streets. 

This Bill has been designed to align with existing schemes in South Australia and the Northern Territory, and will likely align with its equivalent in New South Wales.

The NSW Return and Earn scheme is set to commence on 1 December this year to reduce the volume of litter in NSW.

The Return and Earn scheme will allow members of the community to turn in eligible drink containers to a designated drop off point for a 10 cent refund.

The ACT Government has been in consultation with the New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority to ensure both schemes are harmonised so that a container deposit scheme can operate between both jurisdictions seamlessly.

Due to our close geographical proximity, ACT residents will be able to receive a cash reimbursement when depositing eligible containers in NSW, and vice versa.

Results from schemes in other jurisdictions have indicated a substantial reduction in litter and improved the recovery of recyclables, so it is extremely positive to see that the Government is delivering a scheme here in the ACT.

A Container Deposit Scheme also has a monetary benefit for community groups such as schools, local charities, sporting groups and environmental groups.

Local community groups will benefit from this scheme by returning containers to designated drop off points across the ACT.

While reducing rates of litter in the ACT and increasing recovery rates of litter, this may also encourage behavioural and cultural change in the ACT in regards to littering and local waste management.

Madam Speaker, the Barr Labor Government is delivering on our commitment to establish a Container Deposit Scheme which we took to the election in 2016, and I am very happy to see that this will be delivered early next year.

This Bill is a fantastic initiative to managing waste in the ACT and to protect our precious waterways, parks and roadsides.

It will increase levels of recycling, reduce waste and keep our Canberra streets beautiful.

I would like to thank the Minister for bringing this initiative forward and I commend the Bill to the Assembly.