Minister claims Queensland Container Recycling Scheme a “Resounding Success” amongst Criticism

The Criticism

After criticism of the Queensland Containers for Change recycling scheme by a Sydney based environmental lobby group following a review in February 2020, Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the scheme has been a “resounding success”.

Looking at the figures for the first 8 months of operation show that the scheme had revenue of $195 million from consumer deposits and a return to customers of only $55 million. The remainder was used to run an efficient, wasteful and damaging to the environment scheme. This is a 28% container return rate and by 2022 the target is 85% from a system that is unworkable.

According to the Minister Leeanne Enoch not only is this World Class but this is a Resounding Success!

This article is a supporting article for the main article | Queensland Container Refund Scheme.

Similar findings and complaints have been raised on this website and there are many complaints from users of the service that mirror the claims made by the lobby group.

In the Brisbane Times article NSW lobby group slams Queensland’s ‘ramshackle’ recycling scheme on the 8th of April 2020, Container Exchange went further and called the Total Environment Centre’s report a “bad faith survey” and claimed the figures were “wrong” before going on to claim a link between a “rival container refund scheme” in NSW and the TEC.

A furious CoEx spokesperson Adam Nicholson said Queensland’s scheme was “deliberately a mix” of large operators (TOMRA and Envirobank) supported by myriad small businesses, which are now affected by coronavirus.

“The Containers for Change scheme has been very popular with Queenslanders in its first 18 months of operation and there is strong competition for the remaining opportunities to participate,” he said.

“We are aware that several of our larger operators are lobbying for more opportunities, in southeast Queensland especially.”

TEC said their survey was run between February 22 and March 9 this year before the impact of coronavirus closed businesses.

TEC’s executive director, Jeff Angel, said Queensland’s system was “ramshackle”, with a variety of refund points.

“A lot of these refund points do not work very well, or do not exist,” Mr Angel said. “It’s just not a robust system that can sustain convenience and high recycling rates.

“We are now calling on the Queensland government to subject the Container Refund Scheme to a comprehensive in-depth review and have power to exert greater control over CoEx.”

Mr Angel said the first billion containers collected by November 2019 reflected a 33 per cent recycling rate.

“Their target [CoEx’s] is 85 per cent by 2022, set by the government. But there doesn’t seem to be any intention to increase the number of refund points.

“They really have to reach 2 billion containers in this coming year. They are not going to achieve that.”

Mr Nicholson questioned the timing and funding behind the survey.

“I would question the motivation, and the funding source, of a NSW not-for-profit sending resources across the border to check opening hours and days of Queensland businesses at a time when most of NSW was focused on the deadly pandemic arriving on our shores.”

Container Exchange spokesperson Adam Nicholson is engaged in shooting the messenger instead of answering the issues raised. These are the same issues this website have raised and the comments of real customers have echoed these. The Queensland Container Refund Scheme is a nothing but a sham operation that is poorly run, is inefficient and damaging to the environment.

The TEC Findings

What the Total Environment Centre found in CoEx’s Queensland scheme:

  • The 44 over-the-counter manual and reverse vending machine depots (run by recycling giant TOMRA) worked very well;
  • Of 129 refund point locations reviewed, 14 did not exist or were closed and 35 were not operating correctly;
  • Many bag drop sites had no signage other than on the container, at times making it hard to locate the recycling site;
  • Many of the 64 bag drop sites did not provide bags or directions on how to obtain bags to put into the counting container;
  • Doubts exist that the scheme can help achieve the required 85 per cent recycling rate.

What does Queensland’s scheme consist of?

  • 64 bag drops (13 Gold Coast, 9 Logan, 5 Ipswich, 14 central/East Brisbane, 9 north Brisbane, 11 Sunshine Coast/Noosa, 3 Moreton Bay)
  • 35 over-the-counter depots (6 Gold Coast, 7 Logan, 5 Ipswich, 4 central/East Brisbane, 5 north Brisbane, 3 Sunshine Coast/Noosa, 5 Moreton Bay)
  • 7 mobile/pop-up points (4 Ipswich, 1 central/East Brisbane, 2 Moreton Bay)
  • 9 reverse vending machine (RVM)/drop-off depots (1 Gold Coast, 2 Logan, 2 Ipswich, 2 central/East Brisbane, 1 north Brisbane, 1 Sunshine Coast/Noosa)
  • 14 centres did not exist or were closed (5 Gold Coast, 8 north Brisbane, 1 Moreton Bay)

The Minister

In the Brisbane Times article Qld recycling scheme a ‘resounding success’ so no audit needed, says minister published on the 9th of April 202 the Minster Leeanne Enoch said the system was operating efficiently.

Containers for Change has been a resounding success

Queenslanders are passionate about recycling and we’ve seen that, with the return of over 1.6 billion containers so far.

That’s over $160 million in refunds that has been returned to individuals, schools and charities.

The scheme has also created over 700 new jobs, many in regional Queensland.

In establishing the Queensland scheme, we learned from the mistakes of New South Wales and established a model that creates jobs, while also ensuring people can return their containers in a variety of different ways

That includes the depots, bag drops and reverse vending machines, as well as mobile services to ensure rural and remote communities have access to the scheme.

Obviously from the results, you can see this is working

Our government established the container refund scheme in November 2018 and we regularly monitor its performance

In the first six months of its operation, an independent assessment of the scheme was undertaken, and the Department of Environment and Science has been acting on its findings to make sure Containers for Change continues to deliver this service for Queenslanders.

CoEx … has targets that have been established in legislation for container recovery and container refund point accessibility,” she said. “Those targets have not changed.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch

Looking at the Queensland scheme it is obvious that it can never achieve its targets and the only way to do this is to follow the European model discussed in the main article. Not only will this help to achieve the 85% target it will reduce the costs to consumers to close to zero.

The Minister however is unable to admit the scheme is a failure so Queenslanders will continue to fork out hundreds of millions for a system that will never achieve meaningful results instead of introducing a system that would provide a high percentage of returns at minimal cost.

The question that has to be asked is WHY?

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