As we enter 2018, Victoria is the only mainland state not to have committed to or implemented a container deposit scheme- the recycling program where people get cash for recycling cans and bottles.
In South Australia, where this scheme has been long-running, over 85% of containers are recycled. In Victoria, however, Sustainability Victoria has found an increasing problem with drink containers and many of the state’s waterways experience serious litter. Drink containers are the second most commonly littered item, following cigarette butts. Almost all of them can be recycled, yet most end up polluting the natural environment or in a landfill. If they go to landfill, it means that rather than reusing existing plastic, we create more and more plastic.
More plastic further clogs our world.
The environmental benefits of such a scheme are clear- litter is reduced and plastic is kept from our oceans, and recycling rates are improved, cutting the amount of plastic that ends up in landfill. It is estimated that the NSW scheme- ‘Return and Earn’ will reduce the volume of litter discarded within the state by 44%.
However, a CDS is also able to offer many social benefits to the state, such as creating jobs and generating income for charities. Charities can choose to collect cans and bottles or, as done in the newly implemented NSW system, individuals can immediately delegate the money redeemed to a local charity of choice.
It is also the economically sensible option for the state, given that a recent cost-benefit analysis of a CDS by the Environmental Protection Authority found a return of $1.33 for every dollar spent in such a scheme.
By not following the lead of our neighbouring states, Victoria is turning its claims of being a progressive state into pure posturing. By ignoring the need for a CDS, Victoria’s environmental policy is being left behind nationally.