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.