This short analysis uses data from the Container Exchange Annual Report and Financial Report for the 2018-2019 Financial Year.
This article is a supporting article for the main article | Queensland Container Refund Scheme.
World Class Container Refund Scheme?
The first thing that greets you is that on page 7 the claim is made that Queensland has “A world-class beverage container refund scheme”. This is the biggest load of bollocks and no-one with a functioning brain could make such an absurd claim.
- How does a world class container refund scheme make you have to travel and waste hours of your life jumping through hoops to get back an amount that barely covers your fuel if you’re lucky?
- How does a world class container refund scheme actually do more harm to the environment?
- How does a world class refund scheme actually create pointless jobs in menial tasks?
This is a constant issue in Australian politics, Brisbane City Council claim everything they do is World Class when it’s actually the opposite and the Queensland Government is become fond of using the term to describe everything they do. Maybe if politicians were held legally responsible for their claims these useless and pointless terms would no longer be used.
What is a world class container refund scheme? Imaging a scheme where returned the containers to where you purchased them on your next weekly shop requiring no more effort, no more storage until you have a car full and no cost to you? Sounds amazing right? Nope this is how these systems work in places like the EU and have done for many years.
Australia on the other hand decided to create complicated systems with excessive costs and claim they are world class. Other countries build world class systems and don’t feed such bollocks to their populus.
Lies, Lies and more Lies
Launch day saw more than 658,000 containers returned via 252 container refund points across Queensland. More than 7250 individuals, charities, community groups and businesses had registered for scheme IDs with many more opting to receiveContainer Exchange Annual Report 2018-2019 | Page 10
cash refunds or sign up to accounts with operators in the scheme.
As per the data provided on the Containers for Change website there were at most 201 Container Refund Points on the first day of operation from their own data. The claim made in their annual report is 252.
Containers for Change have now made it difficult by removing the listing of sites from their website and requiring you to use a map based system to get numbers.
As at the 9th of April 2020 the number of Container Refund Points (CRPs) from their website was 313 but the majority of these are bag drop locations, mobile and pop-ups which are limited hours and days (many are closed as well but are kept on the website).
The real number of useful locations is 126 after removing bag drop, mobile and pop-up points.
Reverse Vending Machines are not affected by events like Covid-19 but the World Class Container Refund Scheme that Queensland operates is affected and along with frequent site closing or changing location is a huge issue that the scheme has been unable to manage. It is only with the massive profits that the scheme is able to operate which is a direct cost to the consumer.
Claimed employment for the scheme is 626 new jobs across the state but what is not stated is the Full Time Equivalent (FTE) number. Most of these jobs are casual and part time. Assuming each job is 1/3rd of a FTE this is 209 jobs at a cost of $673,555 ($140,773,000 running costs divided by 209). The cost is at least 50% higher as this is for an 8 month period and is around $1 million dollars per job.
More than 620 new jobs were created across the state, many in rural and regional economies. Some social enterprises elected to become CRPs as well as raise funds through container refunds, harnessing the dual benefits of increased revenue and employment for clients.Container Exchange Annual Report 2018-2019 | Page 19
With the use of Reverse Vending Machines such as Germany there is no need to offer a customer contact centre as the refund is processed on the spot with no need for accounts, logins, providing bank details, waiting weeks or months for payments and disputing payments.
From November 2018 to June 30 2019 the centre received 79,000 queries in total consisting of more than 53,000 calls and 25,000 emails. Of these only 840 were complaints representing just over 1% of total queries.Container Exchange Annual Report 2018-2019 | Page 23
Given the low value of the transaction and people not wanting to spend time on the phone the 1% complaint rate is likely underreported, the number of complaints on their Facebook and Instagram Page is already a large percentage of these. The low number of complaints is not supported by the number of complaints made to the media and other places like social media.
The Costs of the Scheme
The two figures that really matter is the cost of the program and the amount returned to the consumer. In this scheme it’s around 28% is returned to various customers, this is a recycling figure of 28%. These figures do not take into account loans provided by the state government or stakeholders but these are minimal over the life of the scheme and are to be repaid in future years. The effects of these loans on the figures is minimal and doesn’t change the fact that the CRS is an unmitigated disaster.
- Revenue of $195,573,000 (deposit on containers sold and sale of recycled goods).
- Container Refund Expense of $54,800,000 (refund to customers including councils)
- Surplus after costs $27,927,000 (profit)
- Operation costs $140,773,000
Many of the expenses following would not exist if a Reverse Vending Model like Europe was adopted, these include most of the following.
- Container Handling Expenses of $37,594,000
- Logistics Expenses of $9,320,000
- Container Processing Expenses $7,539,000
- Material Recovery Facility Expenses $23,574,000
- Container Export Rebates $11,903,000 (for containers exported out of Queensland)
Running costs for Financial Year 2018-2019
|FY 2018-2019||FY 2017-2018|
|Marketing and Communication||$3,344,000|
|Employee Benefits (wages, super)||$2,415,000||$162|
The Scheme target is 85% of containers recovered by 2022 but the percentage in 2020 is sitting in the low 30’s.