Container deposit, or refund schemes are simple; customers who return their drink containers to specific collection points will be refunded a small amount, 5 to 10 cents, per eligible container. The collected containers can then be sent to material recovery facilities to be recycled, and become new products and materials.
Every minute in Australia, 15,000 plastic containers are either sent to landfill or thrown away as litter. Container deposit schemes encourage people to collect their containers, rather than carelessly disposing in general waste – leading to more recyclable plastic in landfill – or worse still, litter. South Australia has the longest-running container deposit scheme and sees a 76.5% return rate for drink containers, and has a landfill diversion rate of about 80% across the board.
Container deposit schemes also increase recycling rates in the community which has the added bonus of raising money for local organisations, like the Scouts or primary schools. 13% of South Australians, for instance, choose to donate their containers directly to charity. Otherwise, it’s additional money in your pocket, and who doesn’t like that?
Container deposit schemes also result in reduced costs for local councils by reducing litter clean-up costs. And of course, they help to reduce the threat posed by plastic litter to our waterways and coastal marine environments.
The benefits of container deposit schemes are three-fold; the environment benefits with less litter in the parks and waterways. The community also benefits with more incentive to recycle and earn extra pocket money for community programs. And finally, recycled containers become part of a circular economy that extends the life of these materials and reduces our reliance on natural resources.