Instant expert

Container Deposit Legislation

Does ten cents make much sense?

Australian 10 cent coin

Credit: Wikimedia

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What is container deposit legislation?

Container deposit legislation (CDL) establishes a system for getting 10 cents back when you hand in your old drink bottles and cans.

It was introduced in South Australia in 1977 as a litter-reduction strategy and it's still the only state operating the scheme.

People are debating whether a container deposit scheme should be implemented nationwide.

Why go national?

Australians use lots of drink containers - over 14 billion a year - yet we recycle less than half of them.

This is because nearly half of beverage containers are consumed away from home, where they're more likely to be thrown in a street rubbish bin, or chucked on the ground. In fact, drink containers currently account for 47 per cent of all litter, according to Keep Australia Beautiful.

Meanwhile SA is the only state where beverage containers aren't among the five most common types of rubbish collected on Clean Up Australia Day.

The state's Environment Protection Authority reports a total container-recycling rate exceeding the national average at 70 to 75 per cent.

So who is opposing the idea?

While most green groups love CDL, one independent NSW study found limited support from the recycling industry, and clear opposition from the drink manufacturers, packagers and shops.

Cans and bottles collected in your local council's kerbside recycling scheme are a source of money for the recycling companies. So when the Beverage Industry Environment Council found SA to have the second lowest kerbside yield in Australia, the recycling industry got worried.

Also, the cost of running a collection scheme would shift away from local councils towards the drink manufacturers and packagers.

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