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June 20, 2009


Waste not want not

Federal and state governments squandered a golden opportunity recently to do something simple for the environment by encouraging the recycling of cans and bottles through a container deposit scheme.
Last month federal and state environment ministers met in Hobart to consider among other things federal container deposit legislation which many see as a way of improving recycling. The scheme would save councils money on kerbside recyclable collection, increase the recycled component of rubbish and reduce the amount going into landfill rubbish tips.

But again it boiled down to money, with ministers saying they did not act on the proposal this time around as they wanted to ensure the benefits outweighed the costs of such a scheme.

North Coast MLC Ian Cohen has also been pushing for a container deposit scheme at state level, but last week failed to get his Private Member’s Bill, the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Recovery) Bill 2008, up at all, after both opposition and government failed to support it.

It now seems a refund scheme in NSW is only a distant memory for many baby boomers, who remember collecting soft-drink bottles for their refundable cash value.

Mr Cohen said his bill aimed to divert six per cent of all municipal solid waste away from landfill, abating over 470,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – which is equivalent to switching 67,000 homes to 100 per ent renewable energy.
These kinds of results, he says, are so easy to achieve through container deposit schemes which are proven to be popular with the electorate as most people already support recycling. Without such a container deposit scheme, ratepayers and councils have lost an opportunity to pay less for their waste to be taken away and community groups miss out on an opportunity to make money.

As Mr Cohen said, NSW could be seeing recycling rates of over 80 per cent, as they have in South Australia, compared to the less than 40 per cent NSW has now. Currently 210,000 tonnes of drink containers go to landfill every year. The MP said that if community groups could collect just those bottle deposits and get 10c for each, that’s potentially millions of dollars for community projects.

Recently, Tweed mayor Joan van Lieshout backed the call by NSW LGSA and Clean Up Australia for a national refund scheme, saying that’s how her millionaire husband Peter started out in a migrant camp.
Surely it can’t be that hard to get a simple refund scheme together?


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