November 5, 2019
On the surface, Container Deposit Schemes (CDS) seem simple: the public can return eligible, empty beverage containers to collection points and receive a 10c refund per container. But there is a lot more to this legislation than meets the eye. Here are five reasons why CDS are important to our environment, recycling industry and community.
CDS provide a financial incentive to reduce litter and the number of recyclable materials that are sent to landfill. In under two years, the New South Wales CDS collected two billion containers and helped reduce the number of littered beverage containers by 57%.1 Research shows they also help protect our environment with the proportion of beverage containers littered on coasts being 40% lower in states that have CDS.2
When recycling streams are mixed, it can more easily lead to contamination. For example, if food or other materials enter the PET plastics recycling stream it can degrade the quality of the recycled materials produced. CDS provide a clean waste stream where the containers recovered are sorted efficiently. The materials, such as glass, plastic and aluminium, are highly recyclable and are turned into high-grade recycled products with a strong market value. These products are also more likely to be recycled again.
Returning containers is a great way to earn extra cash and help support community groups; kids can choose to earn extra pocket money or fundraise for charities, local sports clubs or schools, while building an appreciation for the environment and their neighbourhood. The CDS in Queensland has paid out $100 million to community groups, schools, charities and households in its first year.2
Product Stewardship is where the supplier takes responsibility for the end of life of their product. The reason CDS is possible is because it’s funded by the beverage industry; Coca-Cola Amatil has a 40-year history of operating the collection scheme in South Australia and supports the schemes in New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia (from June 2020). Coca-Cola has also committed to using recycled plastic across all its plastic bottles, 600ml and under, by the end of 2019. If we are to build a circular economy in Australia and globally, we need to see more examples of supplier responsibility.
For the small number of Australians that live in council areas that do not accept beverage cartons for kerbside recycling3, CDS offers an opportunity for those residents to recycle their eligible beverage cartons. Beverage cartons, such as flavoured milk and juice cartons, under one litre are currently accepted by CDS in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. They will also be accepted in Western Australia when it is launched in June 2020.
For more information on what is accepted in your CDS or when your state’s CDS will be launched, visit ReyclingNearYou.
1 New South Wales EPA.
2 Qld Government statement on CDS.
3 RecyclingNearYou research shows 97% of Australians live in areas where non-foiled lined beverage cartons are accepted in their kerbside recycling.
Rachael joined Planet Ark in 2019 after eight years working in media and publishing as a producer, editor and writer. Rachael is excited to use her skills in content creation and communication to instigate positive environmental behaviour change.