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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Container-cash scheme ‘helps marine life’

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Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, left, Richmond Greens candidate, Dawn Walker, right, and local environmentalists Michael Manley and Rayma Sergeant with a sample of some of the plastic rubbish they pick up off the beach every day. Photo supplied

A national cash-for-container scheme will benefit marine life which is slowly being choked and killed off by discarded plastics, as well as reduce beach pollution, according to the Greens.

The issue was discussed at the weekend by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson and federal Greens candidate for Richmond, Dawn Walker, when they met local environmentalists Michael Manley and Rayma Sergeant, who pick up plastic rubbish from the beach every day at Kingscliff.

Ms Walker said a practical common-sense approach like a national container deposit scheme would help the efforts of these hardworking locals.

Senator Whish-Wilson initiated a Senate inquiry on 7 November last year to examine the connection between cash-for-container schemes and lower levels of marine plastic pollution.

The inquiry also looked into serious allegations of beverage company misbehaviour, such as profiteering, price gouging and obstructionism.

The South Australian cash-for-container scheme or ‘container deposit program’ has achieved a recycling rate as high as 84 per per cent on all beverage containers consumed, the highest recycling rate in Australia.

Ms Walker said South Australians are very proud of this achievement. The Greens are confident a national scheme could be funded entirely from private investment, and run efficiently at a much lower cost than existing schemes.

‘A few big powerful companies in the beverage industry, especially Coca Cola and Lion, claim that such a national scheme would be too expensive and an inefficient way to clean up our nation’s rubbish, and the environmental problems it causes,’ she said.

‘They have strongly lobbied state governments to prevent new schemes, and are also behind an aggressive national advertising campaign claiming that a national reward scheme for rubbish will strongly impact Australians’ cost of living.’

The Greens’ Environmental Protection (Beverage Container Deposit and Recovery Scheme) Bill will create a national scheme for recycling the 10 billion drink containers Australians throw away each year through a 10c returnable deposit on all drink bottles, cans and cartons.

Some of the key benefits of the scheme include: savings to ratepayers of over $59.8 million a year; raising up to $90 million in government revenue, creating hundreds of green jobs, decreasing litter by 12-15 per cent; increasing recycling of drink containers from 50 per cent to 80 per cent; diverting more than 740,000 tonnes from landfill; reducing national greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 each year (the equivalent of switching 197,000 homes to renewable energy); and improving air quality to the equivalent of taking 140,000 cars off the roads.

‘This is a fully costed plan to save taxpayer money, create new jobs and save the environment,’ Ms Walker said.



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