Exchange for Change has announced a six-month price freeze for supplier contributions that fund the Return and Earn NSW Container Deposit Scheme, effective from February to July next year.
Refund point operators and processors taking part in the McGowan Government’s new container deposit scheme will receive more than $830,000 in financial assistance.
The Western Australian government will invest $3.5 million to support network participants following the deferral of Containers for Change, which will now be launched later this year.
The state government announced Western Australia’s container deposit scheme will commence on October 1.
Stephen Dawson, WA Environment Minister, said the scheme’s launch date had to be delayed due to COVID-19, a decision that was supported by the community and the scheme co-ordinator, and public health advice.
The Containers for Change scheme will pave the way for reduced litter, improved recycling rates, and the creation of new businesses and employment opportunities across the state.
“Western Australians have been telling us they are ready and willing to get involved in a cash for cans scheme, they want to recycle right and they want to ensure less beverage containers end up in landfill,” Dawson said.
“An October launch date strikes the right balance between keeping people safe and ensuring the sustainability of the network.”
Originally slated to start on 1 July 2020, it was announced at the end of March that due to COVID-19, the scheme would have to be deferred to either November 2020 or June 2021, to be determined following a review in August 2020.
According to a statement from Dawson, the financial assistance package of up to $3.5 million will support network participants financially impacted by deferral of the scheme, ensuring they remain viable until scheme commencement and It will also ensure sustainability of the collection network.
Containers for Change will allow Western Australians to claim a 10-cent refund when they return eligible beverage containers at designated refund points across the state.
In preparation for the scheme, participants made financial commitments such as taking on leases, staff and technology to support their operations.
The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) stated that the $3.5 million assistance package will provide much-needed certainty for operators involved in the scheme.
Gayle Sloan, WMRR CEO, said the scheme will play an important role in delivering ongoing investment in WA, while providing additional and welcome cash flow to communities.
“The WA government is to be congratulated for acting so swiftly in addressing COVID-19, enabling an earlier restart date than initially contemplated,” she said.
“WMRR also genuinely appreciates that the government has listened to the concerns of operators who had worked tirelessly towards the initial 1 July 2020 start date and were left with uncertainty around the new commencement date,
“In knowing that the scheme will commence on 1 October 2020, coupled with compensation for sites that had already been secured and developed for the scheme, puts WA’s CDS back on track.”
The CDS is also an important part in the COAG waste export bans puzzle, as plastic that flows through the scheme are amongst those that will be impacted when the bans are implemented.
“The impending bans and CDS present an opportunity to grow WA’s domestic remanufacturing capacity,” Sloan said.
The funding will be made available from June 2, 2020 until scheme commencement.
According to recent Return and Earn consumer research, eight out of 10 residents are satisfied with the New South Wales container deposit scheme (CDS), and over two-thirds believe it contributes to long-term recycling outcomes for the state.
TOMRA Cleanaway CEO James Dorney applauded the New South Wales community for their role in the scheme’s success.
“The success of the scheme is a testament to the incredible efforts of the NSW community who in July, returned and earned more than two billion containers in just 19 months since the scheme began,” Mr Dorney said.
“The survey showed that more than half of NSW residents are using the scheme, which in turn demonstrates how easy access to drop-off points and a well-planned network of collections and recovery infrastructure are critical to the success of any recycling system.”
According to the survey, 55 per cent of the New South Wales population have used the scheme, up from 48 per cent in December 2018.
Additionally, the survey showed that 78 per cent believe the scheme will benefit the environment.
Cleanaway Solid Waste General Manager David Clancy said the scheme had far exceeded expectations, reaching one billion containers in a year and two billion in 19 months.
Mr Clancy estimates that Return and Earn is likely to hit three billion containers before the end of 2019, accounting for almost half of all beverage containers sold in the state.
“Container deposit or refund schemes incentivise customers to return their drink containers to collection points in exchange for a refund,” Mr Clancy said.
“They are a perfect example of delivering on the triple bottom line of sustainability – there’s less litter in the environment, refunds can be used to benefit local community groups, associations and charities, and finally recycled containers become a part of the circular economy, extending the use of existing materials while reducing reliance on natural resources.”
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The Western Australian Government has selected Return Recycle Renew to operate the state’s container deposit scheme.
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said Return Recycle Renew would be responsible for running the scheme and ensuring all government objectives are met.
“Overseen by a board, the scheme coordinator will manage payments from manufacturers and importers of eligible beverage products, and will be responsible for establishing and implementing collection and logistics networks,” Mr Dawson said.
“An open and competitive process was used to identify the preferred scheme coordinator and I’m encouraged that Return Recycle Renew is best placed to deliver a high performing scheme for our state.”
According to Mr. Dawson, Return Recycle Renew has been appointed for seven years and must meet all recycling targets to be considered for reappointment.
“One of the first tasks for Return Recycle Renew is to run an open application process to establish the collection network,” Mr Dawson said.
“This will include refund points, transport and processing facilities and support for social enterprises to participate.”
Mr Dawson said WA will have more refund points per head than any other state or territory in Australia.
“As a regional Member of Parliament I want to be sure that remote communities do not miss out on the opportunities arising from this scheme,” Mr Dawson said.
“That’s why there will be at least one refund point in every remote town with 500 people or more and we will be looking at a range of other options for smaller communities.”
Mr. Dawson said as beverage containers account for 44 per cent of the volume of litter in WA, effective management of the scheme is crucial to reducing litter and improving the state’s recycling rates.
A chairperson and community representative will be appointed by the end of the month, with remaining directors appointed shortly after.
The National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has released a statement in support of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s proposed waste and recycling policy.
Labor’s proposal sets out a number of priorities to enhance waste and recycling services, six of which have been highlighted by NWRIC.
NWRIC praised Labor’s commitment to a national container deposit scheme, which includes inviting, but not mandating Victoria and Tasmania become part of an integrated national scheme.
Victoria and Tasmania are currently the only states without a state run container despot scheme in place.
The announcement of a National Waste Commissioner, funded with $15 million over six years, and the expansion of product stewardship schemes to include more e-waste, batteries and white goods were similarly praised.
The council also highlighted the proposed $60 million investment in a National Recycling Fund, and the setting of targets for government purchasing of recycled goods.
NWRIC also cited Labor’s commitment to provide an additional $10 billion in capital for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation over five years.
NWRIC’s statement said the proposal follows Labor’s national policy platform commitment to capture the economic opportunities of a harmonised and strategic national waste reduction and recycling policy, including appropriate energy recovery technologies.
Labor’s policy also commits to establishing a federal EPA and a new Australian Environment Act to replace the current Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Mr Shorten said the new act will aim to tackle inefficiencies, delays and hurdles in the current law, giving business more certainty while protecting the environment.
Presently there are eight different sets of laws and regulations governing waste management and recycling across Australia’s states and territories.
NWRIC CEO Rose Read said every household and business in Australia purchases waste services, and most purchase recycling services.
“The Commonwealth can cut costs for all Australians by creating national, high quality regulations covering waste and recycling,” Ms Read said
“NWRIC is calling for a bi-partisan approach to harmonising the regulations protecting our industry.”
Despite welcoming the policy, Ms Read said NWRIC is concerned about Labor’s proposed roll back of the Emissions Reduction Fund.
“Through the Emissions Reduction Fund, a number of leading recycling initiatives have been funded, including returning composting to soils and harvesting renewable energy from biogas,” Ms Read said.
“Waste and recycling services are essential to all Australians. Therefore, it is critical that whichever party wins the upcoming Federal election – they work proactively with industry to create jobs, serve communities, protect workers and reduce pollution.”
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) this week launched a Packaging Materials Flow Analysis (MFA), a new report developed in partnership with the Institute of Sustainable Futures (ISF) mapping the current state of post-consumer packaging in Australia.
Commissioned on behalf of APCO, the report highlights a compelling need to improve packaging recovery and recycling rates across all material streams.
In 2017/18 Australians generated an estimated 4.4 million tonnes of total packaging waste, with 68 per cent of this collected, and 56 per cent of the collection total recovered by recycling efforts. This ranged from 32 per cent for plastics and up to 72 per cent for paper streams – highlighting a significant opportunity to improve waste management practices to achieve higher recovery rates.
Of the 4.4 million tonnes, the report shows 44 per cent was landfilled, 33 per cent went to local secondary material utilisation, 19 per cent exported, four per cent stockpiled and more than 0.5 per cent to energy recovery.
The MFA Report is one of several APCO initiatives being conducted during the foundation phase of the targets (2019-2020) – the groundwork stage that focuses on research, engaging stakeholders and setting baselines and frameworks.
APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said that to achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets, we need to first understand the journey materials take along the entire supply chain and establish a baseline of data to measure change and interventions. She said that the MFA is first step in this process.
As a critical first step in achieving the 2025 national packaging targets for all material to be reusable, recyclable or compostable, the report outlines the current journey of Australia’s packaging waste from bin to landfill or reprocessing, identifies significant data and infrastructure challenges in the system and models five potential solutions for the future.
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One of the challenges is the major losses to landfill to recoverable materials occurring before waste is collected for sorting at materials recycling facilitates (MRFs) or container deposit scheme collections. The report attributes this to incorrect disposal of packaging wastes by households and businesses.
“Better management of this waste at the source, through improved source separation, is important. Critically, consumer education and awareness raising around appropriate disposal and collection channels, as well as smarter design of packaging for recycling, are also key strategies. These are already supported by the new Australasian Recycling label (ARL) and the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP),” the report says.
Additionally, the report shows the opportunity to increase sorting efficiency by diverting materials, especially glass, from kerbside to the expanding container deposit scheme collections. It finds better sorting equipment will also support improvements in contaminant removal. The report shows there are about 100 MRFs in operation across Australia, with throughput capacities ranging from 5000 to 250,000 tonnes per annum. Around 45 per cent of the total packaging waste stream for 2017/17 gets directed to MRFs and their capabilities for efficiently sorting co-mingled and highly contaminated waste is indicated to be a major factor limiting packaging sorting efficiency in Australia.
“Upgrading existing MRF capabilities is difficult and expensive owing to market uncertainties (e.g., caused by Chinese waste import restrictions), making the case for improving up-stream source separation and collection stronger,” the report says.
Future modelling shows potential to achieve an overall packaging waste recovery rate of 77 per cent, assuming a range of strategies are adopted to address losses across the whole chain, from collection to processing.
With glass packaging, the estimated recovery rate is just over 50 per cent and 23 per cent of glass waste disposed to the residual stream. About 80,000 tonnes of glass is collected and sorted through container deposit collection systems.
The investigation in particular highlights the importance of improving source separation, particularly for plastics to address residuals, a priority for paper in reducing contamination (embedded glass fines) that could be achieved with separated paper or glass separation and diverting glass to CDS to improve the quality of the stream to be suitable for bottle to bottle recycling.
Institute for Sustainable Futures (UTS) Research Director and co-author of the report Dr Nick Florin said that there is great potential to step-up material recovery from the current overall recovery rate of 56 per cent and at the same time increase demand for recycled materials to drive the transition to a circular economy for packaging.
“APCO, as the central product stewardship organisation, is well placed to support this coordinated transition that involves cooperation between consumers, designers, recyclers and packaging manufactures,” Dr Florin said.
The MFA also highlighted significant data and infrastructure gaps that need to be addressed before the 2025 targets can be achieved. These findings will be used to inform additional packaging and recycling research to develop a complete picture of the current system.
Ms Donnelly said we can’t implement effective and meaningful changes to the system if we don’t first have a complete and accurate picture.
“A collaborative approach will be critical to building this. The challenge ahead of us requires a complete transformation of the current system. Over the next 12 months, APCO will be leading an ambitious agenda of projects to build on the findings of the MFA. We look forward to working closely with all stakeholders as we transition to a circular model for packaging in Australia,” she said.
Throughout 2018 APCO also facilitated a series of five, year-long industry working groups attended by more than 80 industry members from across the value chain and government to explore solutions to problematic packaging types (including glass, polymer coated paperboard (PCPB), soft plastics, biodegradable and compostable packaging, and expanded polystyrene).
In 2019, APCO will be co-ordinating 22 new projects to build on the findings of the MFA and the 2018 working groups. These will include further detailed research into packaging consumption and recycling to establish baselines for the 2025 targets, developing targeted design resources to improve packaging recyclability, and developing strategies to address problematic packaging, including plastics.
To read the full APCO Packaging Material Flow Analysis 2018, visit the APCO website.
Return and Earn broke records for recycling over the Christmas – New Year period, setting a new daily record and processing more than 91 million drink containers.
NSW Government Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said a new state record was set on 2 January, when an incredible 6.8 million drink containers were returned across the state.
“Between 21 December 2018 and 7 January 2019, there were six days with more than six million drink containers returned a day, and the daily average is now 5.8 million drink containers a day being processed across the state,” Ms Upton said.
“This shows strong community support for the NSW Government’s Return and Earn scheme as more and more people are recycling drink containers rather than throwing them away.
“Since the scheme started, more than 1.2 billion drink containers have been returned, which is a massive turnaround in the way people dispose of their empty drink containers.
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Ms Upton said that as well as reducing litter, Return and Earn is creating jobs and helping charities create an alternate income stream.
“Employment charity Hoxton Industries is running Return and Earn bulk depots at Villawood and Ingleburn, enabling them to create jobs for people who would otherwise face barriers to mainstream employment,” she said.
Garry Carr, Director of Hoxton Industries, said running a Return and Earn depot has transformed the employment charity’s operations.
“Return and Earn meant we could expand our operations, employ ten additional staff, and return nearly $200,000 to the community,” Mr Carr said.
“Our mission is to create jobs for people who face barriers to mainstream employment, and we can now do this in new areas and with new employment skills.”
Ms Upton said that, as a result of Return and Earn, eligible drink container litter volume have dropped by 44 per cent and now represent an all-time low of 37 per cent of the NSW litter volume stream.
“At the same time, the state’s overall litter volume has dropped by 48 per cent.
“Return and Earn has been a success because it is backed in by the people of NSW and it’s fantastic to see them help to reduce the amount of litter in the environment,” Ms Upton said.
South Australian Government Environment Minister David Spears has announced a review of the state’s more than 40-year-old Container Deposit Scheme (CDS).
A scoping paper has been released to spark a conversation on how to improve the CDS, with comments and submissions open to the government until Friday, 22 February 2019.
The paper indicates that much has changed since the start of the CDS, including the types of containers, consumer choices, technology and markets for recycling. The government is seeking to improve the CDS’ role in recycling and litter reduction.
Some of the questions raised to improve the scheme are: what should be the objectives of the CDS and how well is its achieving these objectives currently? Should more types of containers be included in the CDS and are there containers that could be removed from the scheme? It also asks if the refund amount could be revised and what research is required to inform a review?
Introduced in 1977, the CDS has significantly reduced litter and improved resource recovery for the state. In 2017-18, almost 603 million containers were recovered by collection depots for recycling.
South Australia leads the nation in recovering and recycling beverage containers with an overall return rate of 76.9 per cent.
The scheme operates with beverage suppliers establishing a contract with a super collector and paying a fee to cover the 10 cent refund and handling of containers to the super collector to establish a collection system to recover containers.
Beverage suppliers are able to cover the price of the product when selling to retailers and retailers than pass this cost onto consumers. Beverage containers are sorted and returned to the super collector for recycling which reimburses the refund amount and pays a handling fee to the collection depot. Containers up to and including three litres are covered by the scheme, including soft non-alcoholic drinks, beers, ales and stouts, water, wine-based and spirit beverages and most other alcoholic beverages.
For more information head to the SA EPA website.