FROM November 1, most cans, bottles and cardboard drink cartons will be worth 10 cents each to anyone who wants to collect them. Queensland took a while to accept this initiative.
South Australians are used to cash for cans, with container deposit legislation being in place for more than 40 years. In 2006, the scheme was declared a heritage icon by the National Trust of South Australia. Latest figures show about 600 million drink containers are recycled every year and 80 per cent of waste is diverted from landfill.
A Clean Up Australia opinion poll conducted 20 years ago found 86 per cent of Queenslanders supported the idea.
When the argument was raised in parliament there were some vocal naysayers.
Beer companies and soft drink manufacturers said they would have to up product prices. Politicians said we had a perfectly good council recycling program in place.
The refund scheme allows for recycling plastic, cardboard and foil containers but the powers that be seemed unwilling to relinquish control of recycled glass bottles and aluminium cans, which are worth more.
Recycling firms have in the past sold Australia’s recycled garbage overseas but when China imposed a ban on certain plastic and paper recyclables this year, all that sorting, shredding and sterilising became less profitable.
How effective is the current recycling scheme? Nationally about 15,000 bottles and cans every minute are thrown into landfill or end up as litter.
Queensland’s recycling rate is one of the lowest in the land, sitting at 44 per cent compared to a national average of more than 50 per cent.
It is fair to say we have failed to embrace the idea.
Consumers should have the chance to reap rewards from being ecologically responsible. If the scheme reduces the number of beer bottles and soft drink cans tossed in the gutter, we are on a winner.