Waste Industry United Backing Victorian Container Deposit Scheme Model

As network operator for the NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn, TOMRA Cleanaway sees first -hand the social, environmental and economic benefits of a split responsibility model. A container deposit scheme is designed in the first instance to recover single-use beverage containers found commonly in the litter stream.

The split responsibility model container deposit scheme that is delivered through a separate network operator and scheme coordinator in NSW has demonstrated a convenient and accessible network of return points backed by educational and marketing campaigns achieves results.

Waste and resource recovery associations in Victoria have been outspoken in their support of a split responsibility container deposit scheme model announcement by the state in 2020. National Waste and Recycling Industry Council CEO, Rose Read, Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia CEO, Gayle Sloan and now the Victorian Waste Management Association are all aligned in their view that the split responsibility model container deposit scheme in Victoria will deliver the best outcomes for all stakeholders involved.

VWMA backs Victorian container deposit scheme model

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has most recently made their views public with a statement from their CEO, Peter Anderson pronouncing that best practice container deposit scheme model has been selected for the state, “The VWMA believes Minister for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio has shown leadership, selecting the best possible CDS for Victorians,” Mr Anderson said.

Further highlighting the support of the VMAA for the decision, Mr Anderson stated, “We refute claims by drinks manufacturers that the Minister’s choice is not in the best interest of the community. We are concerned that beverage companies are trying to muscle in for their own commercial gain.”

Anderson added that the Minister’s chosen scheme design removes conflicts of interest and takes the best elements of CDS design from around Australia. “The proposed Victorian model will provide greater transparency and accountability of deposit funds, higher rates of recycling, and a fair opportunity for charities and community groups to participate. We applaud Minister D’Ambrosio and her department for their leadership and measured approach to implementing the Victorian CDS.”

A Container Deposit Scheme for all Victorians

When commenting on the reasons for selection of the container deposit scheme model, Minister for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrobsio said, “This design maximises the number of bottles collected at the lowest cost for scheme delivery, as well as ensuring strong transparency and accountability.”

Validating the scheme design decision earlier this month was the announcement by the Tasmania Government who has also selected a split responsibility model as its preferred container refund scheme design that will be in operation in the community by 2022.

According to National Waste and Recycling Industry Council CEO Rose Read, NSW’s Return and Earn CDS has “clearly set the benchmark” in best practice community access, container redemption and recycling rates, social and environmental outcomes and transparent governance.

“By separating the roles of network operators and scheme coordinator, it ensures consumer convenience is being delivered and provides a commercial incentive to collect and recycle containers back into the economy,” Read said in an October 2020 column for Waste Management Review.

“In Queensland, even with a community access target set by government, customer convenience is still poor, with many collection points only open for limited hours or located in light industrial areas. This is what you get with too much devolution of responsibility and a least-cost compliance approach.”

In a statement addressing the Victorian CDS model announcement in November last year, Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia CEO Gayle Sloan said that by proposing a split responsibility model, the Victorian Government is able to manage the inherent conflict of interest associated with higher return rates leading to increased costs for beverage suppliers.

“Industry applauds the Victorian Government for proposing a scheme that is aligned with the government and community objective of delivering the highest quality, most accessible scheme,” she said.

Sloan added that industry acknowledges that there are multiple important players with distinct responsibilities in a best practice CDS, including the beverage industry, who can play a part in the governance arena and ensure equitable distribution of costs across the sector.

“However, to drive accessibility and community engagement, a strong scheme requires a recycling-driven approach to collection points, where that governance body is not conflicted by a primary objective of minimising costs to beverage suppliers,” she said.

This article first appeared on the Waste Management Review website.

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Listen to The ABC podcast “What will it take for Victorians to participate in the container deposit scheme?