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NSW considering bottle deposit scheme – ACT should also

By gasman 30 May 2012 23

NSW is considering implementing a deposit scheme for glass and plastic bottles and aluminium cans. After dodging 16 clusters of broken bottles on Canberra’s cycle lanes on my commute to work today, I think we should seriously consider this too.

South Australia has had one for many years and the system works efficiently overseas. When you buy a drink in a glass or plastic bottle or aluminium can, you get charged an extra amount (typically 10c), which you can then redeem when you recycle the bottle/can.

The benefits are clear. In British Columbia, where I lived for 2 years, there was no street litter in the form of bottles or cans. There was no broken glass on the roads. Far fewer flat tyres for bikes and cars. Reported recycling rates are between 85 and 94%. Public bins have an extra shelf around the rim to put your drink container so that other people could collect it to recycle if you didn’t want to. Most large stores would redeem the containers, and there were vending machines where you put the container in and get cash out. This, in a province that already has a roadside recycling program.

Canada, Germany, NZ, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway , Finland and 11 US states have legislation for deposit schemes. Germany and Holland report 95% recycle rates for deposit containers. Michigan reports 97% recycling of these containers. Roadside litter is reduced by up to 65% in those states with a deposit scheme, compared to those without, and the reduction of roadside sharps (broken glass) is even better.

If NSW implements this, ACT should also. We are geographically enveloped by NSW, and it would streamline the deposit process so that no matter where the drink container is bought, it can be recycled for cash in ACT or NSW. It would prevent people from buying drinks in ACT (without a deposit) and then taking them to NSW to claim a deposit.

ACT Chief Ministers have claimed that our recycling is already high (around 72% for 2009-10). However, this number is arrived at by looking at the amount of potentially recyclable materials placed in standard domestic (non-recycle) bins. It does not take into account the amount of containers thrown into public bins and discarded by the roadside. It is an underestimate of how much we recycle.

We have much room for improvement and a deposit scheme seems to work extremely well.

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23 Responses to
NSW considering bottle deposit scheme – ACT should also
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Woody Mann-Caruso 8:29 am 31 May 12

I don’t like this, because it’s inconvenient for me, so I’m going to claim that I think it’s a good idea, but not practical / effective because of the anecdotal actions of a tiny, much maligned minority. Now it’s not stupid selfishness – it’s evidence-based policy, or even better, ‘common sense’.

Un-Australian. Just wanted to slip that in too.

pajs 9:11 am 31 May 12

The trick with adding something like a container deposit arrangement to a place that already has a household kerbside collection for mixed recyclables is how to avoid ‘hollowing out’ the kerbside service. If you put a deposit value on a bunch of what is currently also valuable to the kerbside collection provider (on-selling the recovered material), then what happens to the economics/finance of the kerbside collection? In some circumstances, the answer is local government paying more (and passing this through to the rates base) because it costs more to provide a kerbside collection service now some of the value in that material flow is diverted. That could still be a good option, but needs to be thought through.

thatsnotme 9:50 am 31 May 12

Evil_Kitten said :

gooterz said :

Didnt canberra already have this?

We had aluminium can recycling where you got paid by weight I believe? I remember collecting cans and taking them down as kids.

Yep, the old ‘Cash for Cans’ scheme. I can remember there was a collection point in the car parks in Woden, where the Police Station is these days. People would show up with trailer loads of cans.

When I was a kid, dad would take my younger brother and I out to see the Raiders play at Sieffert Oval. Dad and I would watch the game, while my bro went around collecting empties. There was a collection point set up in the ground, so he always left with a few bucks in his pocket. Probably made cleaning the ground after the game cheaper too!

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