The launch of Western Australia’s container deposit scheme Containers for Change has been deferred due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 and its expected disruption to refund points. The decision accords with advice from the scheme co-ordinator, WA Return Recycle Renew Ltd (WARRRL).
The government said in a statement that it will review the situation in August 2020 to determine whether the scheme’s new start date will be November 2020 or June 2021.
Eliminate public health concerns
Delaying the scheme until after the major impacts of COVID-19 are felt will eliminate the public health concerns such as potential risk of infection from handling containers, as well as over-the-counter refund points contravening social distancing. The scheme focuses on employing people with disability, older people and Aboriginal people. These community groups are generally more vulnerable and their involvement in the scheme may place them at greater risk of infection.
Meanwhile, the closures of pubs, clubs and many other venues, as well as schools, has also impacted on the volume of containers.
Containers for Change spokesperson, Tim Cusack said that the scheme operators, the state government and relevant stakeholders are working closely together to develop an alternative date that will provide the best launch opportunity for Refund Point operators and the West Australian community.
“I’d like to thank all of our network partners for their unwavering support and commitment as we worked towards launching on 2 June 2020. Our focus will now be on supporting all of our operators over the coming months as we look to mobilise and launch Containers for Change on a new date. We have been overwhelmed by the public support for the introduction and prior to the impact and rapid escalation of COVID-19, we were on track to deliver the most diverse and accessible container deposit scheme in Australia. This remains our commitment,” he said.
A revised timeline for the launch of the scheme is being undertaken by WA Return Recycle Renew Limited, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) and the State Government.
Environment minister Stephen Dawson explained that COVID-19 had resulted in significant global, national and State impacts and there has been disruption across the board for Government initiatives and services.
“The McGowan Government, in close consultation with WARRRL and DWER, determined that under the COVID-19 environment we are all faced with, there are too many potential health risks and logistical difficulties to start the scheme on June 2, 2020. “The Government has also responded to calls from community, local government and businesses for the scheme launch to be postponed,” he said.