South Australia’s container deposit scheme has reduced the amount of recyclable containers in the state going to landfill to just 3%.
It really is a fantastic scheme. The deposit on beverage containers is AUD 10 cents each (around the same in USD currently). It isn’t confined to just cans and bottles, but also includes items such as flavoured milk cartons and fruit juice containers. The state now has the lowest rate of container deposit items in the litter stream.
You’ll see very few bottles and cans lying around our streets – and any that are littered don’t tend to stay that way for very long. Originally the deposit was 5 cents, but since being upped to 10 cents in 2008, there has been a further 16 per cent increase in return rates.
According to South Australia’s Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, more than 609 million containers or over 47,500 tonnes of materials were returned for recycling and diverted from landfill during the 2011/12 financial year.
That’s an amazing result, but there is a flip side.
The population of our state is just 1.65 million. The number of containers returned over the year works out to be 360 per person. As much as I like to see folks recycling and recyclers making money; perhaps we can also look at how to reduce disposable container consumption – such as by the increased use of refillable bottles. After all, it does take energy and resources to recycle.
While container deposit schemes are usually very popular in communities, not everyone is happy with them.
The Northern Territory implemented a similar scheme at the beginning of this year; much to the displeasure of Coca-Cola Amatil, which fought against it tooth and nail.
Coca-Cola Amatil still hasn’t given up its fight and is taking further legal action; which is pretty disgusting in my opinion. The company believes schemes like these lead to a reduction in sales – even though the consumer receives 100% of the deposit if they take their cans to a recycling station.
Environment vs. greedy companies – it’s the ongoing battle that threatens our planet a little more each day.