Professional Services

How a CDS will impact recycling and waste in Victoria

Cash for cans, otherwise known as a Container Deposit Scheme (CDS), is the collection of drink containers with the purpose to exchange them for a cash refund. Across Australia, all states and territories, other than Victoria and Tasmania, have already adopted some form of CDS. But this is soon to change in Victoria. In 2020, the Victorian government announced that they too would adopt a split responsibility CDS model, to commence in 2023.

With Tasmania introducing a scheme in early 2022, Victoria will be the last state or territory to adopt a scheme. While the adoption is late, the topic itself has been discussed for many years. In 2018, 84 per cent of Victorians surveyed by Total Environment Centre stated they were in support of a waste and recycling scheme. But delays in bringing the scheme to life were seen at multiple stages of the scheme’s development.

Questions of what model to adopt, how community groups like local sporting clubs could benefit from the chosen scheme, and where deposit centres would be placed were all big topics in determining the structure of the scheme. Some of these questions still remain, until more information is released by the Victorian government.

How will Victoria’s Container Deposit Scheme work?
Like all container deposit schemes, the Victorian scheme will involve an increase in beverage prices to include the addition of a minor refundable deposit that is added to the price of the beverage at the point of sale. The beverage suppliers will fund the scheme and a 10 cent refund will be given per container returned.

The scheme is part of the Victorian government’s plan to invest in the transformation of Victoria’s waste and recycling industry. They plan to boost jobs, reduce litter and improve upon the current recycling system.

According to the Victoria’s container deposit scheme consultation report, Victorian’s support a split responsibility model which will see a scheme coordinator and sole network operator jointly responsible for the operation of the CDS. This replicates the scheme seen in New South Wales which began in 2017.

This differs to the schemes seen in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, which have multiple operators, meaning community groups can earn more from the scheme by acting as operators and taking a handling fee for every bottle recycled.

The Victorian government believes that the split model offers more accountability and transparency, and will be a better choice for Victorians.

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CDS impact on the Recycling & Waste Industry & Machinery
According to the Victorian government, the container deposit scheme has the potential to:

  • Greatly reduce litter (by up to half).
  • Improve recycling.
  • Create a circular economy where old containers become new.
  • Deliver new jobs and economic opportunities across the state.

Due to the contamination and uncertainty of what can be recycled in regular household bins, a large portion of recyclable materials aren’t able to be reused to create a clean circular economy. The CDS will help to increase the correct recycling of drink bottles, cans and cartons in an effort to reduce waste and provide a cleaner stream of materials for recycling.

Of course, current recycling and waste machinery will be largely impacted by the CDS with the need for more reverse vending machines and recycling infrastructure needed. Founder of Machines4U, Steve Krebs, believes that the scheme will bring a positive change to the industry with a focus on technological advancements to streamline the sorting of recyclable materials.

“The opportunity for Victoria to create a clean circular economy is massive for the recycling and waste industries. Reducing litter and improving current recycling methods will have a big impact on creating a greener future for Australia.

“In terms of machinery, we expect to see more investments in the technological advancements of recycling and waste machinery, in particular reverse vending machines, recycling separator machines and sorting equipment,”  says Steve Krebs.

The Future of Victoria’s CDS
While it is good news that Victoria is finally adopting a CDS, there is still a long road ahead to ensure the scheme runs smoothly and benefits the community and environment. For instance, Victoria is yet to decide on their scheme operator and coordinator; these positions will go through a competitive tender process to ensure the scheme is in the best hands possible.

And, although a split scheme has been decided, some Victorians some Victorians are concerned this particular model could potentially be monopolised by multinational recycling companies. The Victorian government believes the split responsibility scheme will be the fairest option to ensure that the community, environment and those within the waste and beverage industries get the most from the scheme.

While Victoria will be the last in Australia to implement a CDS, it will certainly be one to keep an eye on. Especially once the scheme is introduced in 2023 and begins to gain traction within the Victorian community.