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An incentive scheme to boost the recycling rates of beverage cans has drawn attention to New South Wales’ poor waste record.

Greens MPs Cate Faehrmann and Jamie Parker joined Independent MP Clover Moore in putting forward a bill to the state parliament last month, calling for the establishment of a NSW container deposit scheme.

This would introduce a 10-cent deposit on beverage containers which is refunded when consumers return the
bottle to collection sites.

Beverage producers will be required to establish a scheme coordinator to develop facilities for the return of containers.

Producers will fund the scheme by both delivering all deposit funds received to the coordinator and covering additional costs.

Mr Parker said surplus from unredeemed deposits will fund further recycling services.

Proponents of the scheme claim the facts are on their side.

“If you go down to Hawthorn Canal in Leichhardt today, I guarantee you’ll see used beverage containers,” Mr Parker said.

“But you won’t see that in South Australia, because those beverage containers are rubbish turned to cash.”

In a statement he said South Australia has had a container deposit scheme for over 30 years, with recycling rates at more than 80 per cent for most materials.

“Compare that to NSW where less than 42 per cent of bottles and containers are recycled.”

Opponents question these figures.

Jenny Pickles from the Australian Foods and Grocery Council said their own modeling asserted the NSW figure was closer to 52 per cent.

Chairman and Founder of Clean Up Australia, Ian Kiernan AO, has also spoken in support of the move.

“The introduction of a [container deposit scheme] in NSW would help us reduce the amount of containers that are ending up in our environment and increase recycling rates of beverage containers from 40 per cent up to 80 per cent.”

Ms Pickles said that in the Northern Territory – which introduced a 10-cent deposit (DC) scheme early this year – consumers are now paying around 20 cents extra per container.

She said the deposit costs appear at the wholesale level and then increase through handling fees – the cost to establish the collection infrastructure.

Current recycling rates for the state and nation sit at a midway point.

According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, NSW recycled around 50 per cent of its total waste in 2006 to 2007 – near the country’s average.

Western Australia was worse with a rate of 33 per cent but South Australia and ACT outperformed at 70 to 75 per cent.

An international survey published in 2002 by consultancy group Nolan-ITU Pty Ltd found Australia’s rate of glass container recycling was around 44 per cent.

Switzerland, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Austria and Norway topped the list with rates from 75 to 89 per cent.

Spain, Brazil, the UK and Ireland bottomed out with rates from 31 to 35 per cent.

As for aluminium containers, Australia recycled around 67 per cent while Finland, Switzerland and Sweden
excelled at 90 to 95 per cent.

Portugal, Spain, France and Ireland were among the worst with an average of 18 per cent recycled aluminium.

Mr Parker said they had offered a NSW specific scheme, separate from the national scheme to be considered by federal and state environment ministers in August, because the national process was too slow and did not ensure the enactment of a deposit scheme.