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Recycling Refund Act welcomed but scheme must not be run by beverage industry

Western Australia’s peak environment group has congratulated the McGowan Government and Environment Minister Stephen Dawson on the passage of legislation to establish a 10c recycling refund scheme for Western Australia, but warned that control of the scheme should not be handed over to the beverage industry, whose commercial interests do not align with maximising recycling rates and convenience for consumers.

Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) Director Piers Verstegen said the passage of the legislation was a significant achievement for the McGowan Government and Minister Dawson that would make a real difference to plastic pollution and increasing recycling in WA.

“In 2019, the majority of used beverage containers here in WA are still ending up in landfill or littering the natural environment, but placing a 10c refund on these items will reverse that situation.

“Minister Dawson and his Department have done a good job in getting the legislation passed by the WA Parliament, and we look forward to the rollout of the scheme.

“One of the most important decisions yet to be made is the make-up of the Scheme Coordinator, which will be established under the new Act to administer the recycling refund scheme on behalf of Government.

“After years of doing everything they can to oppose the Recycling Refund Scheme, the beverage industry have now put their hand up to run the scheme here in WA.

“The beverage industry have a commercial incentive to minimise recycling because the fewer containers are returned, the fewer refunds they will have to pay out to consumers. This means that a beverage-run scheme is likely to be less convenient for consumers and have fewer refund points.

“We urge the Department and the Minister not to hand control of the scheme to the beverage industry, but instead to choose scheme operators whose commercial incentives are aligned with the stated objectives of the scheme – to maximise recycling rates and reduce litter.

“Polling shows that Western Australians overwhelmingly believe that the most important objectives for the refund scheme are to increase recycling and reduce beverage litter. These factors far outweigh concerns about beverage prices or the need to maintain beverage company profits in the minds of WA consumers.”

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