CHOICE membership

Container deposit scheme - designed to fail?



Watching a news item a few nights ago, I was surprised to learn that the nearest container deposit scheme collection point is 115 km away! I have to drive through Tamworth, 35km away, then on another ~80km to Gunnedah which has a much smaller population, the only collection point in the area.

How can the government expect the system to work, when there is no collection point in Tamworth, a city of about 40000? Surely at least every town and city in the state needs a collection point if this scheme is going to work?

It sounds like it is designed to fail…

How not to do a bottle deposit scheme

SA has had the scheme since the early 80’s at least, possibly older for bottles (?) - and I get the sense it has worked well. I certainly made some pocket money ‘can collecting’.

The NT brought it in a few years back, and it works OK even in the smaller town I live in (a little less than two thirds the size of Tamworth it seems).

I don’t know that every town should have one, particularly here where there are some very small towns … but NSW is far more populated, so its a slightly different situation.

Guessing it’s all outsourced - probably no takers in Tamworth - not enough money in the trade?


The news article was mainly about retailers complaining how much it would cost to set up, meaning, it was claimed, that they had to add double the container refund cost - adding $5 to a slab of 24 was one example given


… the cost of recycling I guess, a tax on people who don’t care and a bit back for the people who do. Which doesn’t help people like here you are you who probably have the best intentions but don’t want to store a mountain of containers for 6 months to make the (maybe 30-40$ in fuel) trip worthwhile. Your’e right, that doesn’t make sense.

On the base cost though, same arguments were used way back in SA and more recently in the NT - it went ahead in both places, and barely a whimper heard … It is a flat charge of course, so people on lower incomes relatively more affected I guess.


You near Three Ways? Barkly? In that area I mean


Hi Gordon, my understanding is that they have had a ‘soft launch’, with only a small number of the collection points in operation so far. Seems crazy to me…

You’re not alone either.
ABC News item


One question I have asked of the Qld government is for a cost benefit analysis of the container scheme to be introduced here next year. One reason for the request is add the information to one of my guest lectures. Discussion on impacts of public policy in resource recovery is worthy in such lectures.

The only response provided is the scheme is beneficial as recycling rates should increase to levels like that which has occurred where similar programs have been introduced elsewhere.

I suspect that the program is not cost neutral and the taxpayer is subsidising the program, which is okay if the raxpayer is aware of this and agrees to such subsidies.

The other reason for the cost benefit is would the monies be better spent doing general waste recovery programs, where all waste goes through a separating and screening plant/facility to recover as many recyclable materials as possible? Food for thought.


A bit south of the line of the goat :wink:


Cost benefit is not the only criteria, public acceptance and participation are powerful requirements. Keeping containers off the streets is something that is ‘in the public’s face’ in various ways, while general recycling is much more behind the curtains.

I doubt a cost benefit study was done, and anyway they are usually designed to prove whatever is necessary to prove. Benefits are universally over stated, often by orders of magnitude, with risks being minimised or dismissed.


I found it interesting that bottle shops, around here anyway, put up the prices a month before the rollout… nothing like a bit of skimming to top it all off… I will be interested to see how it goes though, especially for those of us (like Gordon) who do not live close to a deposit site.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I also read you needed a paypal account to be paid… As draughtrider said, he made money as a kid collecting cans… how many kids have paypal accounts?


You are partly correct :wink: Details are at or linked here. The salient options are as follow:

From reverse vending machines - There are three ways to receive your refund:

  1. electronic funds transfer into a registered PayPal account after scanning the myTOMRA app on your
  2. electing to donate your refund to a listed donation partner on the machine
  3. collecting a retail refund voucher that you can exchange for cash or in-store credit at the retail
    partner listed on the voucher.

Over the counter - Over-the-counter collection points are typically located at retail or shopfronts where you can exchange your empty eligible containers with the person behind the counter for a cash refund.

Automated depots - Automated depots will typically be located at larger facilities where you can drive in a car or a box trailer to redeem eligible containers for cash.


Thank you and your reply is soooo much easier to read than the linked page… need a job with the EPA? :wink:


I suspect that this would be because bottles purchased in the month before the official date of the scheme commencement could be returned after this date…thus being entitled to rhe deposit frund. Possibly this is done to reduce the refund costs immediately on commencement. They are usually what is called transitional arrangements.


We don’t have automated recycling in the NT - the containers are either weighed or counted by a real person and then you collect the refund from another person in a booth/window - but you need to present a driver licence the details of which are recorded as part of the refund …

But then we have our photo ID electronically scanned (and I’m sure, recorded, even though they say they won’t) every time we purchase alcohol, so not much surprises here …


I’ve heard that to take cans to a recycle centre in NSW you need to keep the can uncrushed?! Any idea if that’s true? Idiotic if so.


Yes they must be uncrushed and from the NSW EPA website comes this statement re the state of the containers:

“Containers should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and have the original label attached. Wine, spirits, cordial and plain milk containers are generally not eligible. If a container isn’t eligible for a refund, please use a recycling bin.”


As @grahroll has indicated it is true. The containers need to be scanned so that the government can collect the container deposit back from the specific manufacturer.

No crushing or damanging does pose challenges to the consumer…as it requires significantly more volume in ones bag/box/car to take the containers back for s refund. Also, if they are damaged and can’t be scanned, then one loses the deposit.


In ancient times, SA containers that could be returned for deposit had (from memory) a blue or gold lid on the cans, so when they were crushed you could still determine it was a valid container for the scheme. At the time, I believe SA was the only place doing container deposit on a large scale - around 1977/8 from memory. It took 35 years for another scheme to be implemented in 2012 in the NT. Even when the SA scheme had coloured lids most collection depots required cans to be delivered intact and original shape.

It could be argued that this situation is the product of individual schemes being implemented rather than something national …

I agree, it’s idiotic, but then it is implemented by the Government :wink:


In SA they take cans and bottles in any condition, as long as the label is readable. They are sorted manually, employing real people.


If a can is crushed flat top to bottom there is little if no chance of reading the label. I can crush a can this way by hand and make the label unreadable - a good mechanical crusher would render it impossible.

I guess if you crushed them flat so they were still the same height so to speak, you could still read them, and it would save space.

I’ve been told that pre-crushing cans is something recycling centres dislike for another reason - it is said that pre-crushed cans don’t crush into large bricks as well as unmolested cans. Not sure I believe this, but it was stated a number of times at a club I attend after people way smarter than I had consumed many of said cans contents, so it must be true …

Here’s an interesting story about someone potentially not so bright … you’d think he would have done it bit by bit rather than drawing attention …