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Phil Vernon
25 February 2016
2 min read

We have made a submission to the NSW Government regarding its proposed container deposit scheme.

To the NSW Environment Protection Authority:

Australian Ethical Investment is a Sydney-based company established in 1986 for the purpose of environmental and socially responsible investment management. Today we manage over $1 billion in superannuation and managed funds for over 25,000 Australians.

Every year the amount of waste generated per capita in NSW has continued to grow. Residents of NSW now generate more waste than the average Australian. At Australian Ethical we believe that responsible waste management is critical to safeguard the future of our communities and environment. We are concerned that 35% of the NSW’s waste still ends up in landfill.

Australian Ethical is a strong supporter of recycling. We applaud the NSW Government’s decision to introduce a container deposit scheme in the State. Experience in South Australia and the Northern Territory has shown that container deposit schemes are an effective means to reduce waste to landfill and increase recycling.

As an investor we support appropriate regulation of companies to ensure that the market can operate efficiently, mindful of corporate social responsibility. We support a container deposit scheme because it is an equitable and effective way of increasing recycling rates. A container deposit scheme is a reasonable expense for beverage companies to bear to reduce waste from their products. It is also equitable for low income earners who bear no financial cost from the scheme if they recycle their containers at a collection point.

To maximise the effectiveness of the scheme in recovering recyclable materials we support the following features being adopted:

  1. A strong financial incentive for consumers of at least 10c per beverage container to encourage the return of empty drink containers. This refund price point has proven effective in SA to recover approximately 80% of containers. We also support consideration of a higher refund amount to maximise recovery. Evidence suggests financial rewards have been more effective than non-financial rewards in container deposit schemes around the world.
  2. The scheme should have broad coverage and include all containers currently accepted in the South Australian container deposit scheme (up to 3L in most cases).
  3. Container collection points should be wide-spread and conveniently accessible across NSW.
  4. Where possible, the scheme should be aligned across Australian States for efficiency.

We support suggestions made that individuals be able to donate their refund to a charity of their choice. However the individual should be able to choose whether to keep the refund for themselves or make a donation. If a donation to charity were the only option available as outlined in the beverage industry’s ‘Thirst for Good’ proposal this is likely to reduce recovery of containers which is the core objective of the scheme.

NSW has an opportunity to introduce a world leading container deposit scheme. We look forward to the implementation of a scheme that will result in reduced waste to landfill, increased recycling, and less litter in our communities.

We look forward to your response to our submission.

Yours sincerely,

Phil Vernon
Managing Director of Australian Ethical

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