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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New national targets set within 2025 packaging plan

New targets within the 2025 plan have been outlined alongside the launch of the Australasian Recycling Label.

The new targets aim to aim to increase the average recycled content within all packaging by 30 per cent and phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through design, innovation or the introduction of alternatives.

Additionally, the targets aim to ensure 70 per cent of plastic packaging is recycled or composted.

These build on the previous announcement of a target to achieve 100 per cent of Australian packaging being recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025.

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The targets build on commitments made by federal, state and territory environment ministers and the President for the Australian Local Government Association earlier in April this year.

Industry representatives and environmental groups support the targets including Aldi, ALGA, Amcor, Australia Post, Boomerang Alliance, Chep, Close the Loop, Coca-Cola Amatil, Coles, Detmold, Goodman Fielder, Lion, Metcash, Nestlé, Orora, Pact Group, Planet Ark, Redcycle, Simplot, Suez, Tetra Pak, Unilever, Veolia, Visy and Woolworths.

Woolworths General Manager, Quality and Sustainability Alex Holt highlighted the importance of this collaboration.

“We’re really pleased to see such a wide range of industry players come together in support of such a worthy goal. Moving towards a circular economy won’t be easy, but we have the right mix of organisations on board to help make it a reality,” Mr Holt said.

Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price congratulated the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and the initial working group of businesses that are supporting the targets.

Minister Price has also officially launched the Australasian recycling Label to help achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets, developed by Planet Ark, PREP Design and APCO to help consumers better understand how to recycle packaging.

“The Australasian Recycling Label provides people with easy to understand recycling information when they need it most, in those few seconds when they are deciding what bin the package goes in. The label removes confusion and reduces waste,” Ms Price said.

With more than 200 recycling labels currently being used in Australia, the new system aims to reduce confusion and contamination in the waste stream.

Nestlé Head of Corporate and External Relations Oceania Margaret Stuart said the inclusion of the label on Netslé’s packaging was a demonstration of the company’s commitment to sustainability.

“More and more people who buy our products want to know how to manage packing waste, so we have committed to implementing the Australasian Recycling Label across all our locally controlled products by 2020,” Ms Stuart said.

Unilever ANZ CEO Clive Stiff has said the announcements are a critical step towards greater collective action on increasing the nationals recycling capability.

“Plastic packaging waste represents an $80 billion loss to the global economy every year. The benefits of the circular economy approach are clear for business and the environment – the more effective use of materials means lower costs and less waste,” Mr Stiff said.

“We are proud to have recently announced that bottles of popular Unilever products like OMO, Dove, Sunsilk, Surf and TRESemmé will soon be made with at least 25% Australian recycled plastic.

“This is just the start for us and no business can create a circular economy in isolation. Heavy lifting is needed from all players involved – suppliers, packaging converters, brand owners, policy makers and retailers, collectors, sorters and recyclers. We need a complete shift in how we think about and use resources.”

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