On 8 May 2016 the NSW Premier announced that a state-wide container deposit scheme (CDS) will be introduced across NSW by 1 July 2017. This is a significant win for local government and LGNSW because a CDS shifts the responsibility (both financial and physical responsibility) onto the producer and the consumer, rather than spreading the costs across all ratepayers.
The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Act 2016 was passed by the NSW Parliament in October 2016. The NSW Environment Protection Authority issued a draft Bill and a Regulatory Framework discussion paper for public consultation, which closed 21 September 2016.
The key characteristics of the proposed scheme largely mirror those which LGNSW has advocated for years:
- 10-cent refund to consumers for returning a specially-marked drink container
- Drink containers sized between 150ml and 3 litres will be eligible, with the scope mirroring that of the SA and NT schemes (excludes plain milk, wine and spirits)
- Containers presented through kerbside systems will be redeemable, with Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) operators and local government expected to agree on sharing any refund
- Collection depots will range from large-scale depots through to stand-alone reverse vending machines and pop-up sites
- Beverage suppliers are to provide the 10 cent refund as well as the associated handling and administration fees
- A single scheme coordinator is to be appointed by the Minister following an EOI / tender process
The finer details of the scheme are still being determined. The Minister for the Environment has appointed an Advisory Committee to help resolve these details. LGNSW is represented on this group. The EPA also issued a draft CDS Regulation for comment in late 2016, which LGNSW made a submission.
LGNSW will continue its advocacy work in relation to transition arrangements for councils (kerbside collection and processing contracts), and informing councils of their options should they seek to be set up or be accredited as return depots.
Current indications are that other jurisdictions including Queensland, ACT and Western Australia may also adopt a CDS.