A recent trip to South Australia again highlighted to me the great benefits of a container deposit scheme. It was a pleasure to drive along highways without being affronted by roadsides littered with empty bottles and cans.
It was illuminating to walk around the street of Adelaide early in the morning to witness a number of people actively picking up the discarded bottles and cans, cleaning up the city before the business day began.
South Australia has had a very popular and successful container deposit scheme for over 35 years. More recently the Northern Territory introduced a similar 10 cent deposit on drink bottles and cans.
Next year NSW will be joining the container deposit club and both Queensland and the ACT are actively considering container deposit schemes.
Living near the South Australian border and being a regular cross-border visitor, I have long been aware of the benefits of a container deposit scheme. In my opinion a National Container Deposit Scheme would be the best way forward.
However with a lack of genuine progress towards a national scheme, my government was working during 2014 with the NSW government on the possibility of a container deposit scheme involving the two largest states and the two largest drink container markets in Australia.
Therefore I welcome the decision of the Baird government to introduce a drink container deposit scheme into NSW commencing in July 2017.
It is disappointing that a change in government in Victoria has seemingly derailed the opportunity for our state to join this big step forward for a cleaner and better environment.
The benefits of a well-managed and efficient container deposit scheme are many including cleaner streets, roadsides, parklands and waterways.
Container deposit schemes significantly increase the collection and recycling of bottles and cans thereby reducing the use of scarce resources.
There is also strong evidence that where container deposit schemes are in place local community groups, clubs and organisations are able to benefit financially by collecting bottles and cans whilst cleaning up the local environment at the same time.
Currently Australians consume drinks from 15 billion containers each year. However only about 40 per cent of these bottles and cans are recycled.
The remaining 60 per cent or 9 billion drink containers each year end up in landfills or as unwanted litter on our roadsides,in our waterways or scattered as an ugly blight across our environment.
While Victorians are quite rightly proud of their recycling achievements, clear evidence from overseas and South Australia demonstrates that the introduction of a container deposit scheme will provide the incentive needed to significantly boost the recycling of bottles and cans.
Victorians only need to have a real look around their neighbourhood to see discarded bottles and cans in the gutter, on the beach or in the local park to see the benefits of a container deposit scheme.
It’s time for Victoria to ignore the self-interested opposition from the beverage and packaging industries and stand up for less litter, a cleaner environment and higher recycling rates by introducing a container deposit scheme in Victoria.
Denis Napthine was Premier of Victoria 2013-2014 and Member of State Parliament 1988-2015