The stupidity of the Queensland Government Container Refund Scheme really knows no bounds, not content with the inefficiency of this complicated, expensive and cumbersome system when much simpler and cheaper options exist they have now require lids to be removed!
Two reasons are given, one is safety as the lids can apparently fly off at high speed and the other is that the plastic of the lid is different and they don’t recycle it. But why is this the problem of the person returning these bottles who are now faced with another decision. Transport bottles in their vehicle that may leak or spend time removing lids at the Container Refund Points and throw them into the landfill bin?
All other countries that offer refunds on containers accept them back with with the lids, the Reverse Vending Machines used throughout parts of Europe and other parts of the world have no problems with lids being fitted and many of these actually crush the bottle to reduce the storage space required in the store. Googling for injuries from “bottle tops” has found nothing so why are Queensland and some other parts of Australia so special that these pose a real and imminent danger? Over the top workplace heath and safety laws? Stupidity? Who really knows.
In fact removing the lid is not required and actually causes the lids to be sent to landfill when they can be recycled and the lids are in the top 5 of rubbish collected from beaches. The arguments that the various state governments, associations, groups and companies use in Australia as to why they can’t be recycled are nothing but misleading at best and shows a complete lack of understanding of the recycling industry.
Contains for Change Queensland even try and portray their practice of taking bottles without lids as good for the environment when as shown above lids are in the top 5 discarded items found in the sea.
The Containers for Change website has another message and not one of safety but rather that leaving lids on causes problems with transport and storage and that separating means a better recycling outcome!?!? Why are they unable to communicate the same message on Instagram as their website?
A press release by Containers for Change has another message!
Containers for Change says reports of people failing to get a refund for leaving lids on containers or bottles is simply untrue.17th of June 2019 | Containers for Change clarifies lid refund claims
The company has released a statement today to clarify any confusion about the bottle or can drop off program.
They do say lids need to be removed before processing for safety reasons and operators can ask customers to do this but under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act they still must pay a refund for eligible containers whether the lid is on or off.
To find out more information on the recycling scheme visit the Containers for Change webpage at https://www.containersforchange.com.au/
This issue is further made more complicated with roadside recycling where nearly all councils want lids removed and only a few specify to leave it on. And combined with the sad state of roadside recycling in Australia means that most of the contents end up in landfill or another country.
There are many guides out there that are misleading and most give differing information. For example FYA claim that you should wash everything before it goes into the recycle bin and that you have to remove all lids and further they claim that removing them makes them easier to recycle!
The only solution to this issue is to have one government organisation responsible for all recycling in Australia so that a single consistent voice is heard and this organisation is further fully responsible for what happens downstream. At the moment we have the tail wagging the dog.
The Ring around the bottle
The Ring that is left on the bottle with the lid is removed is commonly in the industry called a tamper evident band or skirt, if the lid causes sorting issues why do all the states that require the lid to be removed allow you to leave this in place?
Some recycling companies and organisations even state that the ring and the lid are made from different plastics and this is why the ring is able to be left on the bottle.
Do I need to remove the plastic ring on the neck of the bottle as well?RecyclersSA FAQ and Adelaide Hills Recycling Centre FAQ
No you don’t. The rings have no adverse effect on the recycling of the container and are actually made from the same type of plastic as the bottle itself, so therefore do not need to be removed.
The State of the States
Queensland | Lids to be removed but Ring OK
NSW | Lids and Ring OK
South Australia | Lids to be removed but Ring OK
Northern Territory |
Western Australia | Likely the same as Queensland
Do I need to remove lids from containers before taking them to a container refund point?
Yes, lids should be removed from beverage containers before taking them to a container refund point. Removing the lids helps with the crushing of containers at processing facilities and provides benefits, ie.:
- plastic tops are usually a different plastic from the bottle, so separating the plastics means a better recycling outcome due to less ‘contamination’
- leaving tops on containers can cause problems with transport and storage.
Containers for Change Frequently Asked Questions
New South Wales
Do I need to remove the lid from my container?
No. Bottles with lids can go through RVMs without difficulty. The lids are a valuable resource and will be recycled too. We don’t want lids ending up as litter.
Do I need to remove the lids from containers before taking them to the collection depot?
There is no legal requirement to remove the tops/lids from beverage containers before taking them to a collection depot, but it helps If you do because:
- plastic tops are usually a different plastic than the bottle, separating the plastics is better for recycling
- leaving tops on containers can cause problems with transport and storage.
- you can put your tops with similar plastics in a separate container and ask your depot if they will accept these when you return your containers for refund.
- removing the tops/lids from containers may save time at the depot.
Environmental Protection Agency FAQ
Being run by the same organisation as Queensland so likely the same.
From the Containers for Change Instagram post on this subject.
The lids off policy is not working. It is ‘encouraging’ littering near the refund collection points. This morning I picked up 242 plastic lids that were thrown in the surrounding roadside vegetation. This scheme was set up to address littering – it is obviously lids MUST be included in the scheme to decrease this littering. The full container must be recovered not just the ‘valuable/easy to recycle PET.plasticfreeseas – Take off your container caps – Instagram
Hi @plasticfreeseas – we appreciate your help with this. Hi Tracey, lids and bottles are different types of plastic so need to be recycled separately. Lids can also cause safety issues, shooting off bottles at high speeds if they’re crushed. So if you’re returning your containers to a container refund point or recycling them through your Council bin, the lids need to be taken off. Our CRPs have bins at their sites if people forget to do this before arriving.4changeqld – Take off your container caps – Instagram
@4changeqld Yes I know the plastics are different types. That is not an excuse not to recycle the whole container just the PET. I’m all for separating the lids for safety reasons but there is a responsibility for the scheme to deal with this part of the container not landfill them (or have them end up as small bits of litter). This is a flaw in the scheme fundamentals and should be addressed alongside the PET container. Offsetting this externality of business is unacceptable practice.plasticfreeseas – Take off your container caps – Instagram
As usual all the hard questions that make sense are ignored such as the following.
So now everyone is asked to drive all the way to a depot to deliver bottles. What will that cost the environment? Kerbside recycling seems far more environmental on that measure.peterstelmach – Take off your container caps – Instagram
And the following which is only responded to with a contact us message. These issues are quite common and they have made it clear on their website that they will not look into any discrepancies.
I have been saving my eligible bottles for 2 months now. I dropped them off in 6 filled garbage bags and just got my notice that I was paid $2.50. Please explain. I feel that I have been scammed and to think that my whole family have been on a recycling mission to do our best for the environment. We were going to invest the money into a recycling system to help us continue this program at our business. $2.50 might get us some plastic garbage bags to put future bottles in. However, we thought the aim was to REDUCE the use of plastics. Not create more once use wastage.no_sixty8 – Take off your container caps – Instagram