Remember a time when we would buy a drink (usually in a glass bottle) at the local milk bar and drink it while hanging out the front with our friends so that we could go back in immediately and claim our bottle refund. In those days I wouldn’t have thought of just tossing the bottle into the bin much less littering it on the street. Those five cent pieces were invaluable to a seven year old.
Fast forward many years and these days we have such a huge waste problem with 30 million bottles and cans littered or landfilled every day. Many of our plastic bottles are discarded in the streets, parks, and ultimately end up in our waterways and the ocean. Beach clean
ups conducted throughout Australia have ascertained that 90% of all waste washed up is plastic, mostly bottles, caps and straws. The CSIRO predicts that by 2050 almost all of our sea birds will have traces of plastic in their gut. If we could harken back to the days of the bottle refund, do you think it would make a difference to our pollution and landfill problems?
Well the good news is that there is a fantastic solution to the plastic epidemic within our grasp. The Queensland State Government is looking at offering people 10 cents for each container returned to a collection depot or placed in a reverse vending machine.
Environment Minister Steven Miles said Queensland had one of the lowest recycling rates in the country.
After decades of campaigning and following the NSW government embracing the program the Queensland government will take on the program in 2018 and then along with South Australia and the Northern Territory who already have active refund programs in place, we should see almost 80% of our bottles and cans sent to recycling rather than landfill.
So how will Cash for Containers work? When we buy a bottle or can of drink there will be a ten cent refundable deposit built in to the price of our beverage. Once it is empty the bottle can be recycled at one of many reverse vending machines located at your nearest supermarket, shopping centre or community drop off point. It’s such a simple process, you put the empty bottle in and the ten cent deposit goes back into your pocket. The bottles and cans are then sent to a recycling hub and the money earned from the sale of recycled materials along with the unredeemed deposits, funds the entire system. Pure genius!
A flow on from this is that thanks to the way the system works we can turn our bottles and cans over to charitable organisations and community groups which can then turn our trash into much needed funds for their projects. Plus it will create 2,500 new jobs. Now that is something to be excited about, a system of recycling that gives back, reduces our plastic pollution and funds itself.
If you would like to support the small team of staff and volunteers who have been tirelessly championing this cause you can watch their informative animated video and make a donation at www.boomerangalliance.org.au .