Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 965..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
In the 1970s, however, drink manufacturers found it more economic, at least from their perspective, to use disposable containers such as PET and HDPE bottles, liquid paper board cartons and aluminium cans. They could then let local governments pick up the cost of collecting the litter generated and for the dumping or recycling of containers. Even the glass bottles that in the past were refilled were just dumped or recycled into new glass bottles.
In response, the South Australian government implemented a mandatory container deposit scheme on beverage containers in 1977. Similar schemes have been established in some states in the United States and in some European countries. This move was opposed by the beverage industry, which has continued to oppose the introduction of any other container deposit legislation scheme in Australia.
The problem of litter from drink containers and the problems of disposing of this waste have not, however, gone away, thus leading to regular calls for the introduction of container deposit legislation in various states. For example, the organisers of Clean Up Australia Day have called for the introduction of CDL, because they have found that 15 per cent of the waste collected on Clean Up Australia Day, some 2.1 million items of rubbish, consists of beverage containers. Such litter is not a problem in South Australia.
This Assembly has even considered container deposit legislation itself. In 1994, the then Standing Committee on Conservation, Heritage and Environment released a discussion paper on container deposits called "Many Happy Returns". It noted that the South Australian container deposit legislation had been very successful in achieving high recycling rates, much higher than recycling targets set in other states in negotiation with the packaging industry. The committee hoped that the issue would be revisited after the 1995 election. Unfortunately, this issue has not progressed, mainly because the previous government made a commitment to focus on the household collection of recyclable waste as an alternative to container deposits.
Another reason is that the committee concluded that the costs of introducing CDL in the ACT would be much reduced if there was an integrated deposit refund scheme between New South Wales and the ACT. The committee believed that the ACT should delay making any decisions on CDL until a decision had been made in New South Wales. That time has now come.
As part of a review of the New South Wales Waste Minimisation and Management Act the New South Wales Minister for the Environment, Bob Debus, commissioned an independent review of container deposit legislation. This review was conducted by the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology in Sydney and was released in February this year. This report found that CDL was a good example of an increasingly important environmental management principle known as extended producer responsibility-that is, that manufacturers should take responsibility for the quality of their products throughout their whole life cycle, including how the products are disposed of when they reach the end of their useful life.
The review found that only 45 per cent of beverage containers used in New South Wales are currently being recycled, and that this could increase up to 95 per cent with CDL. The review found potential benefits in introducing CDL, taking into account that the