Qld Container Refund Scheme fails target

Containers for Change - the 10cent refund scheme - has failed to meet its 2020/21 target of 79% recycling. COEX, the scheme manager tried to hide this by removing all reference to the target on its website.  

It has presented lame excuses in the Brisbane Times article for the current annual rate of 61%. Their defence has no credible foundation for the following reasons:

1. They quote a January 2020 recovery rate as a positive indicator. In addition to this being 18 months ago, it is not an indicator of scheme success or otherwise as sales to retailers are low in January, as a significant portion of the sales are made in December to stock up for January. Thus the low sales against which January recovery (driven by high holiday consumption) is benchmarked, inevitably leads to a superficially impressive number.
2. A monthly rate cannot be used as an indicator of the annual recovery rate. Nor can the ‘’3 month rolling average’’. The target of 79% is an annual commitment.
3. It is claimed that COVID restrictions had an impact on consumer ability to obtain refunds. While in the 2019/20 year, 66 collection points were suspended – this number had dropped to 19 in 2020/21 and is currently one.
4. The increase in sales during 2020/21 is proffered as having a dampening impact on the recovery rate. However, the reported sales of 2.9billion drinks pa is very close to the about 3billion that was stated at the beginning of the scheme. The sales number should be no surprise to COEX which they would have used as a basis for rolling out collection points. Also a higher sales amount does not reduce the recovery rate by itself – it simply means collection points are used more intensively.
5. Sales in 2019/20 were lower possibly due to COVID, but so too was recovery. With both numbers trending lower, the recovery rate in 2019/20 is therefore an accurate reflection of scheme performance.


Previous reports by the Total Environment Centre have revealed some critical issues with the convenience and utility of the state’s collection points. COEX has responded in a defensive manner, rather than engaging in a genuine public discourse about problems. It is difficult to be confident that they are capable of resolving key issues, in particular to meet the legislated 2021/22 recovery recycling rate of 85%.

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