Building a successful CDS: Lion

As Victoria joins the rest of the states and territories with a Container Deposit Scheme commitment, Coca-Cola Amatil and Lion outline the key ingredients of a well-run scheme.

As the last state to make a commitment to introduce a container deposit scheme (CDS), Victoria will pave the way for what will become a truly national scheme.

Victoria, which will introduce a CDS by 2023, follows Tasmania, which last year committed to a scheme by 2022. Together, Coca Cola Amatil (Amatil) and Lion Co have operated CDS’ around Australia for more than 40 years.

As the schemes have been set up differently across the states and territories, the two companies play varying roles in other jurisdictions.

In NSW and ACT for example, Amatil and Lion play a role in the scheme’s coordination as part of the five beverage manufacturers managing the scheme through Exchange for Change in each jurisdiction.

In Queensland and Western Australia, the schemes have been developed as not-for-profit organisations, established by Amatil and Lion as members.

These four newer schemes build on the success of CDS’ in both South Australia and the Northern Territory, where both organisations have been scheme coordinators in what are some of the oldest producer responsibility schemes in the world today.

Jeff Maguire, Group Head of CDS Development & Implementation at Coca-Cola Amatil, says the two companies strongly support the planned Victorian and Tasmanian schemes.

“An effective CDS is at its core a producer responsibility scheme. The scheme will create a circular economy that will reduce litter, avoid unnecessary landfill, increase the volume of collected and recycled material, and importantly, minimise the price impacts for consumers,” Jeff says.

“Tasmania and Victoria are in a great position to look at how states are going with their schemes, including the schemes in NSW, ACT, QLD, and WA.”

He says it is important to draw a distinction between an independent scheme coordinator and operators of the collection point networks.

Some of the core tenets of this model of operation, he says, include having a producer led Scheme Coordinator with an independent chairperson and independent board members, which ensures accountability and transparency ie: a true producer responsibility system.

In the NSW, ACT, QLD and WA Schemes, the Chairs are appointed by the relevant Minister, giving the community confidence about governance.

Another key point of accountability in a well-run scheme, Jeff says, is audit controls. This ensures the containers, which are valuable commodities, are traceable and there is no double handling from the consumer through collection to recycling.

The challenge for government, Jeff says, is that the scheme is independent and ensures extended producer responsibility through accessibility and convenience. This means collection points must be established in areas where they are needed most, he says, regardless of the economics.

“For example, in Queensland we set up a collection service on the entire west coast of Cape York. It’s a lot of small communities but we think everyone should have the opportunity to claim their 10 cent refund,” he says.

Jeff says that as the producers of beverage containers, it is unacceptable that they end up in the litter stream.

Amatil and Lion see it as their responsibility to do what they can to reduce litter and ensure it doesn’t end up in waterways, and reduce landfill while increasing recycling rates.

For example, the scheme has been extremely successful in NSW, collecting over three billion containers and achieving the litter reduction goals. Before the Scheme, 160 million drink containers were littered in NSW each year.

This comprised 44 per cent of litter by volume. The scheme has resulted in an up to 57 per cent reduction in drink container litter and an annual average of 40 per cent reduction in drink container litter since the Scheme began in 2017.

Jeff says the core challenge is for the scheme coordinator to work closely with governments to ensure the collection point network is accessible and convenient for consumers.

“It is imperative that the scheme engage with all levels and all players in the waste and recycling industry to offer the most diverse and inclusive collection point network possible,” Jeff says.

He says a CDS offers significant and diverse opportunities not just for commercial waste operators, but also social enterprises, community groups and small businesses.

This is achieved through litter or donation drives, or by promoting the ability for the public to donate their refunds directly to chosen organisations.

In NSW through the collection point network it is possible to donate to a variety of charities and social enterprise groups when returning containers.

Over $1 million has been raised by donation appeals through bottle returns, supporting more than 430 groups.

In Queensland, more than 5000 community and social enterprise-based groups have established a scheme account for their organisation – allowing easy donations to them from community members no matter where they return their containers. Around $2.1 million has been paid to those groups and charities via donations since the scheme commenced.

However, despite minor differences in the models structures and operations, Jeff says that at the core, a CDS provides the potential for community benefits nationwide.

To that end, he estimates that when you add up all the schemes, with many of them worth anywhere from $400 to $600 million to the local economy, you end up with potentially a $2 billion industry.

“As Tasmania and Victoria consider design options for a CDS, we look forward to working closely and collaboratively with them, as we have in the other states and territories to set the schemes up for success,” Jeff says.

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CDS success story: Exchange for Change

Return and Earn has delivered exceptional results across litter reduction and participation since launching in 2017. Exchange for Change explains the five key factors behind the scheme’s success. 

Since Return and Earn launched in December 2017, a staggering 3.4 billion containers have been returned for recycling.

Millions of containers are now returned every single day and more than $1 million has been raised for charity and community groups through reverse vending machines (RVMs).

Put in perspective, prior to the scheme’s commencement, more than 160 million drink containers were littered across the state each year.

Since the scheme’s launch, litter from drink containers has reduced by an annual average of 40 per cent in NSW, supporting the NSW Government’s commitment to reduce overall litter by 40 per cent by 2020.

The Return and Earn scheme is delivered through collaboration with three partners.

The NSW Government who designed the scheme; Exchange for Change (EFC), the scheme coordinator, and TOMRA-Cleanaway who operate the network of return points.

Importantly, it is an excellent example of producer-responsibility, with the beverage industry funding the scheme and the community receiving a 10 cent refund when they return containers.

Since the launch of the scheme in December 2017, 3.4 billion containers have been reused or recycled.

CEO of Exchange for Change, Danielle Smalley says it’s the collaboration between the NSW Government, EFC, TOMRA-Cleanaway, and the beverage industry that drives great results.

“Return and Earn has fundamentally shifted people’s thinking around litter and waste. The community is no longer seeing containers as something you throw away, they’re actually seeing it as a valuable commodity,” she says.

She says that it’s the community that has really benefited from the success of Return and Earn. Danielle highlights that there has been a significant reduction in litter.

The scheme has also created significant opportunity for smaller and local businesses to play a role collecting containers as over the counter return points or automated depots. This also generates the potential for local job creation.

Last, but not least, the scheme shares the wins with everyone, including consumers, councils and charities.

More than $1 million has been raised for official donation partners listed on reverse vending machine return points since the scheme launched, and countless more funds raised for charities, schools and community groups through their own return and earn activity.

Public participation in Return and Earn is also very strong, with 59 per cent of NSW adults having participated in the scheme.

The majority – 78 per cent of these participants, which is nearly half the population of NSW, return containers every month or more.

Danielle says it’s repeated behaviour that is really important.

“There was initially awareness building and then when people started to engage, it was about getting them to make it habitual and Return and Earn has been successful on both fronts,” she says.

“A great deal of the repeated behaviour can be attributed to the excellent customer experience. It’s accessible, easy to return and there’s an instant refund, so people come back again and again.”

This positive experience has been driven by the customer-centric design of Return and Earn, which mandated that return points needed to be located at convenient locations in existing paths of travel for consumers.

These community access principles were central to the tendering process for the scheme. On the ground, the customer centricity is being delivered through TOMRA Cleanaway’s network of more than 635 convenient return points widely available across NSW.

These include over the counter, RVMs, automated depots and donation stations. Variations between the type of return point, whether it be cash refund, donation or voucher, and the quantities they accept also make it easier for the public to choose a return system that suits them best.

The scheme is also data-rich thanks to a strong technology foundation through TOMRA Connect, enabling scheme partners to respond to issues quickly and rapidly adapt to the needs of the customers.

For example, a live data feed is connected to the Return and Earn website and the myTOMRAapp, helping NSW consumers find the nearest return point and to quickly check availability before returning.

The network of return points also enables real-time monitoring of the scheme, helping identify the busiest points and enabling evidence-based decision making on possible future locations and how best to optimise network use.

At the time of writing, in response to COVID-19, consumers could access Return and Earn for returns if it was in line with the most recent advice from the NSW Government Public Health Order.

The network operator has been able to adapt to the unfolding situation, introducing ‘touch-free recycling’ at RVMs with no need for consumers to touch machines, alongside a range of extra measures to ensure participants follow government advice on good hygiene and maintaining social distancing.

Looking at the future, there is real potential for the model of partnerships and producer-led responsibility to help deliver the NSW Government’s vision for a circular economy.

For more information click here

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Exchange for Change announces new CEO

NSW and ACT container deposit scheme coordinator Exchange for Change has announced the appointment of new CEO Danielle Smalley.

According to Exchange for Change Chair Tracy McLeod Howe, Ms Smalley was chosen after an extensive and competitive selection process.

“Ms Smalley is an outstanding choice, bringing a wealth of experience building and leading high performing teams in the public sector, and working in senior stakeholder engagement, media, issues and project management roles,” she said.

Ms Smalley previously served as Chief Operating Officer with the Greater Sydney Commission and held senior roles with Sydney Metro and Manidis Roberts.

“This appointment marks an exciting new chapter for Exchange for Change, and the board is looking forward to working with Danielle to ensure Exchange for Change continues to deliver on its remit to realise a sustainable future without waste,” Ms Howe said.

Ms Smalley said she was excited to be taking on the role.

“Building further on our success is a challenge I accept with confidence, determination and fierce ambition for the organisation,” Ms Smalley said.

“I am passionately committed to placing our suppliers, partners and the community at the absolute centre of everything we do.”

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From coordination to recycling: TOMRA-Cleanaway

The New South Wales Government’s Container Deposit Scheme offers a significant opportunity to educate the community about the value of recycling. TOMRA-Cleanaway explain the challenges behind orchestrating the game-changing scheme.

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