Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Drink Deposits Recycled

By Ian Lowe

Deposits on recyclable containers are returning despite the packaging industry’s protests.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

It’s good to see some political attention being paid to waste. I have been puzzled by the fact that no other state has followed South Australia, which reintroduced beverage container deposits decades ago. The South Australian scheme has resulted in much higher rates of recycling glass bottles and metal cans, as well as significantly less litter. That change has been effected by a very small charge of 10¢ per container.

I recall that drink bottles required a deposit of threepence when I was a child. No bottle was ever on the roadside for any length of time because that amount of money bought a single ice cream cone for the lucky young person who found a discarded container. That means the deposit was the equivalent of a few dollars in 2015 purchasing power!

The NSW government has stated its intention to introduce a bottle deposit scheme, and the ACT and Queensland would like to follow this to reduce complications at the border – it would be silly if there was an incentive to buy drinks in Canberra and return the containers to Queanbeyan, or carry bottles from Tweed Heads to Coolangatta.

But there is still speculation about details of the system, such as whether local councils that collect waste for recycling would be able to recover the deposits. Even at the likely charge of only 10¢, that is still much more than the glass, metal or plastic in a...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.