Why Cash for Containers?

Friday 7th of December 2012

POSTED BY: Gabrielle Grime, WMRC Earth Carers Coordinator

A walk in a local park, along a roadside or by the beach shows us the nasty truth: easily recyclable drinking containers are a huge source of litter.

Rubbish at Cottesloe Beach Courtesy 6PR.com.au

In fact, WA’s recycling rate is one of the lowest in the country. We only recycle about 20% of our plastics, compared to South Australia’s recycling rate of almost 80% (CCWA website). This is put down to the fact that in South Australia people are financially rewarded for their good behavior. South Australia has a Container Deposit scheme (or Cash for Containers) where people receive 10c back on any drink bottle they collect and deposit. It makes sense that if we have a refund system in WA, we could rapidly improve our recycling rates and keep plastics and cans out of landfill and our oceans too.

In January 2012 the Northern Territory started up their own Cash for Containers scheme. Recently the West Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) joined with the Conservation Council to campaign for WA to have a scheme similar to South Australia.

WALGA supports Cash for Containers because of the benefits it has for councils: reduced litter, lower landfill rates, reduced waste management costs and providing recycling options for regional and rural councils. (See WALGA’s factsheet for more information).

The Town of Cottesloe were one of several councils supporting the campaign and organised two Cash for Containers events, supported by Earth Carers, the Conservation Council and the Two Hands Project.

The proof is in the pudding!

At the Town of Cottesloe’s Hullaballoo Festival on 11 November 2012, over 400 people brought back drinking containers to the Cash for Containers stall for a 10c refund. And kids at the event became particularly eager collectors, coming back many times, and actively seeking out containers to recycle. 

EC Volunteers at Cash for Containers Stall, Hullaballoo FestivalKids lining up at Cash for Containers Stall, Hullaballoo FestivalPremier Colin Barnett with EC Volunteers at Cash for Containers

Volunteers at the Cottesloe Beach Event on 25 November 2012 had an extremely busy morning, with schools from the local area dropping off an impressive 4,000 containers in a few short hours! This figure highlights another social benefit for Cash for Containers schemes: the opportunity for schools and community groups to collect containers for fundraising.

EC Volunteer at Cash for Containers Event, CottesloeParticipant receiving refund for cash for containers school collectionDropping off containers cash for containers event Cottesloe Beach

In total, a monumental 8,000 containers were dropped off during the course of those two events.  Just think of what could be achieved if Cash for Containers became legislated in our state!

The Conservation Council of WA sums up the benefits of Cash for Containers well:

By having a cash value, the glass or plastic bottle, can or cardboard carton is no longer seen as just rubbish. Even discarded empties are likely to be collected by somebody else to reclaim its value. Multiply such small acts many thousands of times, and think what this fundamental change in behavior could mean in terms of resource stewardship!” (CCWA website)

Taking action

If you would like to support the Cash for Containers campaign, send an email to the Environment Minister via WALGA's online petition, or write to your local MP to show your support. 

Signing the petition for Cash for Containers Cash for Containers Banner, Cottesloe Beach

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