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LGAT backs a CDS for Tasmania

The Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) has backed a container deposit scheme, finding it would provide an "incremental" benefit for local governments.

The study, commissioned on behalf of the Southern Waste Strategy Authority, Northern Tasmanian Waste Management and the Cradle Coast Waste Management Group was undertaken by consultancy Equilibrium.

Previously, the primary mechanism for examining the impact of container deposit schemes has been (take a deep breath) - the Packaging Impacts Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (PICRIS) - commissioned by the Council of Australian Government (COAG) Standing Committee on Environment and Water. This study has been the largest study to date on the effect of a national container deposit scheme.

However, given how the Coalition Government recently disbanded the COAG Standing Committee on Environment and Water, it is unlikely the Federal Government will move to further the interests of a national container deposit scheme. From here, State based action will be likely the only mechanism for furthering container deposits.

LGAT President, mayor Barry Easther said in a best case scenario, kerbside costs in Tasmania as a result of a Container Deposit Scheme may be reduced by up to $26.8 million over 20 years, or an average saving of $1.3 million per year.

“In Tasmania, collection and processing costs are higher than the national average, contamination rates are generally high, the proportion of glass in kerbside is higher and the value of recyclable materials is lower than the national average,” he said.

“Tasmania also has some uncommon issues such as limited local end markets for all materials, limited opportunities for glass processing and higher freight costs.”

“A container deposit scheme is expected to cause incremental change to recycling and litter management,” he said.

 “The impact would vary from council to council as recycling and litter practices and costs vary. The extent to which benefits could be realised is dependent on being able to achieve modelled outcomes … regardless, the results of the assessment were more positive than many would have anticipated.”

Relative to other extended producer responsibility initiatives, container deposits charge a large percentage of products sale price as a recycling levy. For example, a 10 cent deposit on a $2 beverage is a 5% recycling levy.

The report’s key finding is that "overall, while the impacts of a Container Deposit Scheme for Tasmanian Local Government are not as beneficial as generally estimated in the PICRIS, a container deposit scheme will potentially be beneficial to the viability of the Tasmanian kerbside recycling system as it will increase the convertible value of the materials in a kerbside recycling bin”.

“We will share the results with the State Government as an input to their recently announced tender process for a cost benefit study of a Tasmanian container deposit system so that a picture of risks and benefits can continue to be built,” Easther said.

“In future, we may need to look at a range of scenarios and case study individual council impacts,” he said.

Currently, South Australian and the Northern Territory have container deposits schemes. South Australia's scheme has been operating since 1971, while the Northern Territory's scheme began in January 2012.

Container deposit schemes have been subject to fierce resistance from large packaging companies such as Coca Cola Amatil and Lion. These companies successfully challenged the NT container deposit scheme in the High Court, but only managed to delay it as the territory got Federal Government support to overrule the constitutional challenge.

In August 2012 Local Government NSW also commissioned a study and found a container deposit scheme would also benefit NSW Councils. The full report on the Tasmania study is available on the LGAT website.