Queensland’s Container Recycling Scheme (CRS) has come under fire in an independent health report that calls for greater transparency and reporting, an increased number of refund locations and expansion to the types of bottles and cans which can be returned.

Total Environment Centre (TEC) has today released the comprehensive report with information from its own investigations, public data and the Queensland Productivity Commission. TEC compiled the report after an independent critique conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers last year into the system’s operations was never released, despite continuous calls to make the data available.

Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme has now been operating for two years and in its report, TEC found serious inadequacies with the system, including that it is more expensive than the New South Wales scheme, and has an unacceptably high ratio of refund points to population (1 refund point per 39,000 people in SEQ, compared with 1 for every 12,000 in NSW and 1 for every 2,500 in best performing European countries).

TEC Executive Director Jeff Angel said the purpose of the report was to highlight the challenges the system faces to ensure Queensland has the best possible recycling scheme.

“Queenslanders currently return about 40 per cent (%) of eligible containers via the new network but the scheme has a target return rate of 85%, or 2.5 billion containers every year, by the 2021/22 financial year, so there’s still a long way to go,” Mr Angel said.

Mr Angel said the report contained eight recommendations.

“Some of those recommendations are very practical, like calling for more refund points to be located at key retail centres and supermarkets, so Queenslanders can recycle their containers as part of their weekly shop,” Mr Angel said.

“We also want the Queensland operator to work with other States to look at expanding eligible containers to include things like wine and milk bottles to greater reduce litter and waste.”

Mr Angel said several of the recommendations centred around the way the private group, Containers for Change (CoEX) operated the system.

“There needs to be greater transparency regarding the system’s progress and performance, and CoEX, which is registered as a not-for-profit, should publish public reports which include budget and strategies.  The Qld Productivity Commission was very strong on this.  Scheme  data should be subject to an independent audit to ensure its accuracy.’’

“CoEX should also engage in consultation with the public, including environment and community groups, on the effectiveness and expansion of the Container Refund Scheme. This dialogue has been noticeably absent over the past two years.”

TEC’s full Health Report can be accessed here.

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