Judy Edwards

Judy Edwards

Former Minister for the Environment; Science

    Edwards backs container deposits for WA

    27/11/2005 12:00 AM

    Environment Minister Judy Edwards has called for a new recycling vision for Western Australia based on refunds for drink containers.

    “Refundable container deposits clearly work, and I will support phasing in such a system in this State,” Dr Edwards said.

    The deposits are small refundable fees on items such as drink cans and bottles to encourage the return of the containers for recycling.

    “Our community deserves the best possible opportunity to minimise packaging waste and protect the environment,” the Minister said.

    “These small, refundable deposits are part of the solution.”

    Dr Edwards has initiated an investigation of a number of different models for container deposit schemes that could be used in WA. These would cover both manual and automated collection systems for used containers.

    “New technologies are becoming available for the collection of containers, such as reverse vending machines that sort containers and return deposits automatically,” she said.

    “The investigation also will involve extensive consultation with the community.”

    The Minister said Perth’s kerbside recycling system was performing well, but by itself kerbside recycling could not cater for regional areas and did not pick up the increasing amount of packaging waste generated away from home.

    “One excellent feature of container deposit systems system is that deposits collected by local councils can provide a significant revenue stream to support kerbside recycling,” she said.

    “Container deposit schemes also can provide much-needed support for recycling facilities in regional areas where it is currently uneconomic for local government to provide for recycling.

    “In South Australia, where the deposits have been used for 20 years, about a third of drink containers which are sold under the scheme find their way into kerbside waste collections, allowing local councils to redeem those deposits.

    “In South Australia, the five cents deposit on each container has not significantly increased the cost of drinks, but the system has delivered environmental and economic benefits for that State, including an obvious reduction in the litter problem.

    “Another benefit of container deposit systems is that recovered materials have much less contamination. The higher quality recovered material is worth more when sold as a feedstock for new products.”

    Dr Edwards said the container deposits would strengthen initiatives such as the National Packaging Covenant that was an Australia-wide move to reduce waste.

    “Rather than waiting for other States and the Commonwealth to take action, I have initiated our own investigation to determine the most appropriate container deposit systems for WA,” she said.

    Minsiter's office: 9220 5050

    Comparison of SA Recycling to WA Recycling rates for packaging.

    South Australia's population and economy is not significantly different from Western Australia's.

    In SA, about three times as many aluminium cans are recovered compared with WA. About 96 per cent of the cans recovered are collected through their container depots.

    SA achieves almost four times the recycling rate for plastic than WA.

    In WA, we recycle about 4,000 tonnes of plastic each year from household recycling services. In SA a total of 15,000 tonnes of plastic is recycled. Much of the difference between the two States can be explained by container deposits.

    SA achieves over double the WA recycling rate for glass. SA collects about 46,000 tonnes of glass annually, whereas WA collects about 15,000 tonnes from household recycling, with possibly a further 5,000 tonnes from commercial recycling operations.

    (Not all glass containers would be subject to deposits, but it is fair to say that much of the difference between the two States would be as a consequence of the deposits in SA.)