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February 17, 2009

The Canberra Times

Chief Minister's 10c refund scheme for bottles and cans fizzes out

The ACT will not introduce a 10c refund scheme on bottles and cans, according to Chief Minister Jon Stanhope.

Speaking at the release of the Clean Up Australia Day annual Rubbish Report yesterday, Mr Stanhope ruled out the ACT going it alone when it came to instituting a container refund scheme similar to South Australia's successful model.

Mr Stanhope was concerned such a scheme would see recyclers cross the border from NSW to collect the refund, costing the ACT millions.

''We've looked at this and done some studies [but] it's not our next priority in regards to waste,'' Mr Stanhope said.

''It wouldn't work for us without container deposit in NSW and that would impact unfairly on us. We have to be careful to get the best bang for our buck.

''We're interested in a bulky goods collection system and the next most efficient step is to employ people at the tip face.''

Refund scheme champion and Clean Up Australia Day chairman Ian Kiernan agreed with Mr Stanhope's stance, outlining the need for a federal refund strategy.

''If the ACT stood alone it's going to be a major problem,'' Mr Kiernan said.

''But if we can get one through in NSW we'll be hot-footing it back here to get a scheme to complement it, then we can put pressure on Victoria. It works well in South Australia [because] instead of seeing rubbish, people see money and then make it disappear.

''[The scheme is] about better resource management, our resources are finite [so] we're going to keep pushing.''

A national poll issued last month showed 88 per cent of Australians and 100 per cent of Canberrans supported creating a 10c deposit and refund scheme.

The 2008 Clean Up Australia Day annual Rubbish Report revealed beverage-related rubbish, including bottle caps, plastic and glass bottles and labels, made up a significant portion of the rubbish collected across the territory during last year's clean-up.

According to the report, more than 20 per cent of rubbish collected in the ACT could have been recycled through normal kerbside collections.

Cigarette butts accounted for 50.2 per cent of all rubbish collected in the ACT and volunteers picked up about 7.7 times more butts than in 2007.

Last year more than 18,000 volunteers collected more than 160 tonnes of rubbish from 80 sites across the ACT, a response Mr Kiernan hopes will be repeated at Clean Up Australia Day 2009 on March 1.

''Everyone in the ACT can take matters into their own hands on Sunday, March 1, by getting involved in Clean Up Australia Day and helping to clean up their local environment,'' Mr Kiernan said.

Clean Up Australia will soon be running a TV campaign about the need for greater recycling. For more details visit www.cleanup.com.au


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