Qld Container Refund Scheme needs major reform

A survey of refund points under Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme (CRS) operated by scheme coordinator CoEX, has found serious problems with community access that will inhibit convenience and recycling rates, in years to come.

“The CoEX website doesn’t reflect reality. Almost 40% of refund points are either closed, don’t exist or not operating properly.  Also 39,000 people are served by a refund point – three times bigger than the more convenient NSW scheme with more collection points. It’s a poor result.  The CRS should be doing much better,’’ said Jeff Angel, Director of the Total Environment Centre which carried out the survey.

The study of south east Qld carried out from 22 February to 9 March 2020 (before the impact of  CONVID19 restrictions), released today found:

  • Of 129 refund point locations reviewed - 14 did not exist or were closed and 35 were not operating correctly
  • All mobile/pop up points (except Return-it Victoria Point) were problematic due to restricted opening times
  • Many bag drops had no signage other than on the ‘pod’, at times making it hard to locate and in one instance, wasn’t able to be located (DFO Brisbane). Many did not provide bags or QR tags on site and many did not direct users to other locations for these
  • Over-the-counter manual and Reverse Vending Machine depots worked very well.

“The scheme has been operating for 17 months and these issues should have been ironed out by now.  It makes you question the commitment of the CRS Coordinator as it has clearly not put in sufficient effort into maximising convenience for consumers, which of course will flow onto lower recycling rates,”  

“It appears to be a systemic problem in the choice and number of refund point types and how they are operated.  It’s notable that the lower the return rate, the more unredeemed refunds kept by the bottlers like Coke and Lion.”

‘’We are calling on the Qld government to subject the CRS to a comprehensive in-depth review and have power to exert greater control over CoEX.  We are happy to help as drink container refunds have an absolutely essential role to play in reducing dangerous litter and supporting a growing domestic recycling industry.  The CRS must keep faith with the community which invests its time and money in supporting the scheme,’’ Mr Angel said.

Update (15/04/20): It has been alleged by CoEX that TEC has a financial interest in a competing operator in Qld.  TEC has no financial or legal interest, directly or indirectly, in an operator, CitizenBlue Depot (Qld) PL. in the Qld CRS. TEC regards CoEX's comments as an attempt to shoot the messenger. 

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