The Containers for Change Scheme is carrying a heavy weight of expectation on it’s shoulders. Heralded by many as THE waste solution I applaud the intention of the government for trying to reduce beverage containers going to landfill and providing the opportunity for social enterprise and community engagement through the container deposit scheme.
At the same time though, I know that this is not the answer. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Recycling is always the last option in the waste-reduction hierarchy. I feel like I bang on about this a lot, but the message that it’s okay to just keep consuming at the rate we do so long as we recycle the waste is off the mark. Keep Australia Beautiful council reports that the world produces almost 20,000 single-use plastic bottles every second. By 2021 that number is expected to increase by 20%. Increase. Surely now is the time to be looking at ways to decrease the number of plastic bottles produced, even if it is from recycled materials? I feel like the government has a one-basket environmental policy and this is where all it’s eggs are.
Global soft drink companies have been quite supportive of Containers for Change and are the ones funding the refunds. From their website: “Drink manufacturers, distributors and importers who first supply eligible beverage containers into Western Australia fund the scheme.”
And why wouldn’t they? They get to remove their corporate guilt, the guilt of their consumers and possibly justify a price hike, plus a little extra to cover the cost of the refund.
It’s not all doom and gloom and I certainly don’t want to curb anyone’s enthusiasm for participating in the scheme. Any waste not going to landfill is great and in states already operating a container deposit scheme there has been an 11% drop in beverage container litter (although litter in general is still on the increase).
Also, there is up to 90% less energy consumed in using recycled plastic instead of virgin plastic in production.
And after reading this statement on their website — All containers returned through Containers for Change will be recycled. The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2007 requires that all returned containers are recycled and must not be disposed of — I feel recycling via this way is probably a better way of guaranteeing your containers do get recycled than using your kerbside recycling bin.
With China no longer accepting our garbage and in light of revelations at the end of 2019 following the Cleanaway recycling facility fire in South Guildford that up to 20 local councils were having to send recycling to landfill rather than stockpile it (creating further fire risk), I think Containers for Change is the better option.