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Slow movement on national deposit scheme

Federal environment ministers could not reach an agreement on a national recycling and deposit scheme for packaged drink containers at a meeting in Canberra on Friday.

The proposed scheme would incur a 10-cent fee on containers which would be refunded when recycled.

A similar scheme has been in place in South Australia since the late seventies and the Northern Territory is currently looking to introduce one similar in January next year.

The proposal discussed in the meeting on Friday was actually developed in July 2010 to reduce littering and encourage recycling following findings in the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CRIS).

Tasmanian Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, Brian Wightman welcomed the progress on the development of a CRIS, including an investigation of the economic impacts of a national container deposit scheme (CDS).

Speaking from the meeting, Wightman said that he was pleased to see the CRIS is on track and that ministers have reaffirmed the commitment to open consultation with stakeholders during the development of the statement.

“The CRIS will provide a thorough and transparent mechanism for investigating a range of national measures to increase recycling and decrease littering of packaging waste, which includes a CDS, an advanced disposal fee, and co-regulatory industry product stewardship schemes," Mr Wightman said.

“I recognise there is strong support in the wider community for governments to introduce container deposit schemes.

“However, it is important that we ensure the economic impacts of any such scheme are positive, and that other potential options are also thoroughly examined.
He said Tasmania has recognised the importance of developing a scheme that will successfully reduce landfill and litter.

“Apart from the environmental impacts, it is estimated that compared to land filling, recycling can provide around three times as many jobs per tonne of waste.

“If national agreement is not reached on a CDS or a cost-effective policy for increasing recycling and reducing packaging litter, we will continue to look into the potential for a state-based system.”

It’s expected that the CDS scheme could increase recycling rates by eight per cent and reduce littering by six per cent, or 19 per cent by volume.

But Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says enough progress has not been made and the latest developments are the latest in a line of empty promises.

“We’ve had two Senate inquiries, countless reports supporting a national container deposit scheme, then yet another year of analysis,” he said.

“South Australia’s use of container deposits for more than 30 years was a case study in the success of the system.”

“Australians use more than 12 billion drink containers every year.

“Every day the Commonwealth delays the introduction of a national container deposits system means an extra nine million recyclable containers – each day – going into landfill or being left as litter.”

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