October 1, 2020
The state's 'Containers for Change' scheme is officially up and running.
As of today, Western Australians can exchange used drink containers for cash at one of the state's 200 new refund points.
The state joins New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory in establishing a return and earn system for container recycling.
The Containers for Change scheme offers 10c for every eligible container that is recovered through the program. Eligible containers include most aluminium, glass, plastic, steel and liquid paperboard beverage containers between 150ml and 3 litres.
The scheme has created 600 local jobs, with priority given to the long-term unemployed and others who may face barriers and discrimination when it comes to gaining employment.
To ensure all communities are able to take part in the scheme, the state government has also installed almost half of the collection points in regional and remote areas.
“I am incredibly proud that Containers for Change is providing so many employment opportunities, with more than 40 per cent of the jobs being filled by those with disability, the long-term unemployed or Aboriginal people,” WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said.
"I'd strongly encourage all Western Australians to get involved, to start returning their eligible containers and start making change."
The state government estimates that 6.6 billion containers will be recovered over the next 20 years through the scheme.
"People in WA use 1.3 billion drink containers every year, that's 3.5 million a day, 150,000 an hour and more than 2,000 a minute. We know that currently, these containers make up 41 per cent of all litter here in Western Australia," WA Premier Mark McGowan explained.
"Containers for Change is a great win for our environment, for local jobs, for community groups and charities looking to fundraise, and for our kids to learn about the benefits of recycling.
The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia has praised the program, saying that it will help economies and communities in their post-COVID recoveries.
“States are working hard to rebuild our local economies post-pandemic, boost jobs and employment, and prepare for the impending COAG waste export bans, and this scheme will have the opportunity to make a positive mark on these efforts," Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia CEO, Gayle Sloan, said in a statement.
The program will also have a positive impact on marine wildlife by reducing the amount of plastic litter that makes its way into the ocean.
“Plastic waste is lethal for wildlife. It is estimated that half of all seabirds and turtles have plastic in their stomachs. Scientists also think that 100,000 marine animals and millions of seabirds die each year because of plastic debris," Australian Marine Conservation Society plastics spokesperson Shane Cucow said.
“We know these schemes help. Queensland’s scheme has reduced containers littered by 35%. These schemes mean less plastic bottles in our waterways and less animals killed by plastic."
Lucy started her career working as a writer and editor in print and digital publishing. She went on to create content for Australia's leading sustainable fashion platform while completing her Master of Cultural Studies. Lucy spends her downtime at the beach, crocheting and hanging out with her cat Larry. She believes words can change the world and is stoked to help Planet Ark spread the message of positive environmental change.