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March 3, 2009

The Mercury

Bottle Deposit Study Queried

THE Tasmanian Greens say a feasibility study on a container deposit scheme is a sham.

Environment Minister Michelle O'Byrne announced on Sunday that Hyder Consulting would look at adoption by Tasmania of a rebate for recyclables like South Australia's.

The lead consultant on the project, Russ Martin, has conducted similar reviews in New South Wales and the ACT.

But Greens MP Cassy O'Connor said Mr Martin was also a representative of the former Beverage Industry Environment Council and had done work for the National Packaging Covenant Industry Association, which have both opposed container deposits on the basis that they increased the cost of products.

In the early 1990s Mr Martin was responsible for the repeal of a container deposit program set to take effect in Florida.

He appeared before a Tasmanian parliamentary committee in 2005 on behalf of the BIEC, arguing that container deposit schemes were costly and ineffective.

"If you introduce CDS on top of comprehensive recycling you create a duplicate system that would undercut recycling programs and increase the cost of kerbside recycling if -- and that is a big if -- consumers are motivated by the deposit," Mr Martin told the committee.

Ms O'Connor said Premier David Bartlett was on that committee and would have been well aware of Mr Martin's position.

"Why would the Bartlett Government choose a person with close links to the packaging industry to lead the Tasmanian CDS feasibility study?" she said.

Mr Martin said he no longer did work for the NPCIA and the study would be open and transparent.

"Some people will be critical of whatever we do from either side of the debate," he said.

"The issues are more complex than [they] would lead you to believe.

"There are potential conflicts with kerbside recycling but our study is looking at minimising those impacts and recommending the best features for a CDS if the Government chooses to go down that path."

Ms O'Byrne said the terms of reference did not ask whether or not Tasmania should have a CDS.

"Instead, we have asked them to define what the most feasible CDS for Tasmania would look like and to examine the costs and benefits of such a scheme," she said.

She said the findings of the study were expected to be ready for release in mid-2009.


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