Container Deposit Schemes Work Why is Industry Still Opposed
The scheme will allow for 10c to be refunded on most beverage containers larger than 150ml. This can be done through reverse vending machines and state-wide depots. This has reignited an ongoing discussion that is largely driven and fueled by the drinks industry.
BehaviourWorks at Monash University, as part of the NSW Process, recently reviewed data and research from 47 CDR schemes around the globe. This work was commissioned but not carried out by the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
The 47 CDR programs recovered, on average, 76% of beverage containers. In the United States, the beverage container recovery rates in 11 CDR states were 84% for aluminum, 48% for plastic, and 65% for glass, compared to 39%, 20 and 25 in non-CDR states. South Australia has one of the oldest CDR programs in the world. The figures are similar: 85%, 74%, and 84% for glass, cans, and plastic, compared to national averages at 63%, 36%, and 36%.
Some CDR programs donate the refunds to charities, but people will return a container to get a refund. The higher the refund amount, the more likely people are to return the container. The majority of schemes offer refunds between 5 and 10 cents; however, 11 Canadian provinces have schemes that refund up to $40 for glass bottles over 1 litre.
CDR schemes reduce litter overall. Data from seven US States shows 69-83% of container waste was reduced and 30-47% of overall waste.
Lastly, CDR government schemes are sustainable. All but two of the 40 government schemes in operation around the world have been running for an average 24.8 years.
Why do the drinks industry continue to oppose CDR schemes?
The first argument is cost to the public, producers, jobs, and government. For example, alcohol taxes revenues are reduced due to lower sales.
The published studies that we found were not able to back up these claims. These studies were either funded or theoretical with no empirical data. Both manufacturers and consumers will support the NSW CDR scheme. Consumers are expected to pay an estimated A$30 per year if they do not redeem their deposits.
In 2014, the Australian government commissioned the Packaging Impacts Decision Regulation Impact Statement to provide the most reliable cost data. The Australian government commissioned the href=”http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/nepc/publications/packaging-impacts-decision-ris”>Packaging Impacts Decision Regulation Impact Statement/a> in 2014.
All stakeholders, not only the beverage industry, should consider whether the costs are worth it.
Can the industry handle it?
Second, the industry is able to recycle its containers. Many examples do not support this argument.
Coca-Cola launched its reverse vending machines in Dallas, Fort Worth (Texas) in 2010. The company set a monthly recycling target of three million beverage bottles. was dissolved in October 2014 after achieving only a quarter.
PepsiCo launched its Dream Machine initiative in April 2010, with the aim of increasing the US beverage containers recycling rate from 34% up to 50% by 2018. It reported that it had collected over 93 millions containers by 2012. This may sound impressive, but to achieve the 50% target would require 400 times more effort.
These examples show that CDR programs based on industry are either not sustainable or do not have realistic targets.
What is the alternative to recycling?
Has argued CDR schemes cannibalize existing curbside programs. Evidence indicates that CDR legislation has had a positive effect on curbside recycling.
It may be related to the ” Spillover Effect,” where people are more inclined to do something if they did it. CDR data suggests that people are more likely to recycle at the curbside if they buy a drink and pay a container deposit. South Australia, for example, had a recycling rate of 67% in 2008-2009, compared to a national average of 51%.
Behavioural Research tells us, too, that convenience plays a big role in CDR schemes. This is especially true when it comes to how close the collection points are to the homes of people. Vending machines may be perceived as convenient, but the data about whether they actually work is mixed.
There is also strong evidence to suggest that clean environments will likely remain more pristine than they would otherwise be and that littered areas are more likely to attract litter.
The research shows that CDR programs not only encourage beverage container recycling but also reduce litter. Research evidence should inform the ongoing CDR debate and include all stakeholders.