Queensland Container Refund Scheme False Recycling Claims and Statistics

Figures provided by Ministers, Departments and Container Exchange have often been misleading at best and comparisions have been difficult to make due to inconsistent and differing methods being used for calculation of relevant statistics.

Depending on what suits their agenda at the time you have annual consumption figures for containers of “up to 3 Billion” and “over 2.4 Billion”.

Containers for Change and Container Exchange are fond of quoting the figure of 30 to 35% for past recycling rates when in the 2017-2018 financial Year immediately before the commencement of the Container Recycling Scheme it was 45%.

There needs to be an independent audit performed of the embarrassing Container Recycling Scheme with a view to replacing it with a supermarket Reverse Vending Machine system like Germany and other countries.

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

Recycling Percentages

Before the start of the Container Refund Scheme recycling rate was 45% but immediately afterwards it dropped to 38.5% before increasing to 41.6% 4 months later however the claims from Government and Container Exchange was that they were recycling 62%!

This is easily proven incorrect yet the media have not picked up on this and the only other questions around this have been from from an interstate environmental group who calculated it at 33% and were attacked by Container Exchange and protected by the Minister who claimed there was no need for an audit.

  • Recycling Rate 2017-2018 FY = 45%

Containers for Change started on the 1st of November 2018

  • Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 06/2019 = 38.5% (calculated)
  • Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 10/2019 = 62% (claimed)
  • Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 10/2019 = 41.6% (calculated)

Reduction in Litter

One claim that has been thrown into the Container Exchange Annual Report for 2018-2019 on page 8 is the 35% reduction in litter between November 1 2018 to presumably the end of January 2019 which is a 3 month period.

Container Exchange Annual Report for 2018-2019 on page 8

The Minister said that there was a reduction in litter in the environment of about 35% in a media statement on the 7th of September 2019 | 800 million containers now returned through Containers for Change. No mention was made that this was beverage container litter and this is another deliberate attempt to overestimate the benefits of a flawed scheme.

Minister Enoch said across Queensland, the container refund scheme had helped reduce litter in the environment by about 35%.

Leeanne Enoch | 800 million containers now returned through Containers for Change

Details of this survey can only be found in the Department of Environment and Science Annual Report for 2018-2019 on page 36 where there was an omission that this was as survey conducted in February 2019.

Department of Environment and Science Annual Report for 2018-2019 on page 36

Calculations

A number of figures have been supplied by the Queensland State Government for the total number of bottles and cans covered by the Container Refund Scheme.

Neary 3 Billion by the Minister responsible at the time Dr Steven Miles in the Implementing Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme Discussion paper from April 2017.

In a Media Statement by Steven Miles on the 22nd of July 2016 he quoted the figure of 2.4 Billion and this figure has been used by numerous media and other organisations as late as 2019. As this is the lower figure this will be used for calculations as it will only increase the percentage.

In the Queensland Productivity Commission report on Container Refund Scheme Price Monitoring Review the claim is 2.8 Billion containers per year. The final report is here.

Containers Exchange claimed a 63% redemption rate based on 38% via Container Refund Points and 25% via material recovery facilities (council etc).

To estimate costs (Table 4.1), the Commission used scheme prices and data on volumes provided by COEX. The data includes the volumes of eligible containers sold in Queensland per month, by material type, for the period 1 November 2018 to 30 April 2019.

The direct cost of the scheme per container ranges between 4.59 and 5.36 cents, depending on the type of material in containers. The predicted container redemption rate is 63 per cent, which implies an average refund of 6.3 cents per container.
To calculate the direct cost of the scheme, the Commission took the total of 1.4 billion containers sold into the market in the first six months of the scheme’s operation 4 and, for each month, categorised the volumes by material type and then multiplied those volumes by the scheme price for that type of material.

4 Redemption rates used included: (a) 38 per cent returned through container refund points; and (b) 25 per cent returned through material recovery facilities. Data supplied by COEX.

August 2019 | Container Refund Scheme Price Monitoring Review

It’s not possible to work it out from the initial figures in the first Annual Report as there are loans included in the amount and containers by customers were stored from before the scheme started and cashed in based on the large numbers the first weeks of operation.

Recycling Rate 2017-2018 FY = 45%
Containers Sold in 2017-2018 Financial Year = 2.4 BILLION
Recycling Rate for 2017-2018 FY = 45% *1
*1 Thanks a billion: Container scheme transforms Queensland recycling

Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 06/2019 = 38.5%
Containers Sold in 11/2018 to 06/2019 = 1.6 BILLION *1
Calculated Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 06/2019 = 38.5%*2
Claimed Recycling Numbers 11/2018 to 06/2019 = 617 MILLION*3
*1 Using the 2017-2018 figure across eight month period.
*2 .617/1.6 = 38.5%
*3 Container Exchange Annual Report 2018-2019
[Note: using the figures in the annual report for 2018-2019 show this figure to by 28% based on income from containers and payments to customers – as this was the first year of operation this figure may be slightly distorted so will not be used for this calculation]

Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 10/2019 = 62% or 41.6%
Containers Sold November 2018 to October 2019 = 2.4 BILLION
Claimed Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 10/2019 = 62% *1
Calculated Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 10/2019 = 41.6% *2
Claimed Recycling Numbers 11/2018 to 10/2019 = 1 BILLION
*1 Thanks a billion: Container scheme transforms Queensland recycling
*2 1/2.4 = 41.6%
[The TEC survey claims a 33% recycling rate, this is assumed to be based on the 3 Billion container figure so I have not included it above but it shows how far the Queensland Government supplied figures are from the truth.]

Low to Mid 30s Claims

In 2017-18, the figure improved to 45 per cent.

Now, after the first 12 months of the state government-backed cash for containers scheme, the rate is 62 per cent.

Containers for Change spokesman Adam Nicholson said COEX – the company that runs the scheme – calculated Queensland’s recycling rate after the billion cans were recycled since November 2018.

“We were the worst-littered state and we were down in the low to mid 30s for our recycling rate,” Mr Nicholson said.

Thanks a billion: Container scheme transforms Queensland recycling | 1st of November 2019

44% and 3 Billion Containers

The main page of the Container Exchange and Containers for Change Website states the 44% figure for the year before they started operation along with the 3 Billion containers per year.

In recent years, Queensland has had one of the lowest recycling rates in Australia at around 44%. Each year, around 3 billion drink containers are generated in Queensland alone and are the second most littered item.

11th of April 2020 | Container Exchange Main Page
11th of April 2020 | Container Exchange Main Page
11th of April 2020 | Containers for Change Main Page

$25 Million to Charity Organisations

Steven Miles the Minister responsible at the time included a claim in a media statement on the 22nd of July 2016 that $25 million could be made by community organisations each year. In the 8 months from November 2018 to June 2019 a total of $863,897 was paid to Charities and Community Groups [page 8 – Financial Report].

Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme is Utter Rubbish!

Queensland Container Refund Sham Scheme

A Container Refund Scheme introduced in 2018 after over 2 years of planning should be a well thought out and planned cost effective scheme that works from the outset with minimal change required by those using it? Right? Well not in Queensland nor the rest of Australia it seems.

Far far away in Germany they have a container refund scheme (called the Pfandsystem – the German word for Deposit is Pfand) that just works (well mostly but more on this later), visit almost any supermarket or bottle shop and deposit your bottles or cans (containers) into a Reverse Vending Machine at the entry and receive a coupon that is redeemable in that store for goods or cash.

So what system did they choose in Queensland? Surely we would have learnt from the South Australia system that requires people to drive to depots and queue on a Saturday morning to cash in their containers? Not really because in Queensland we have chosen to have Container Refund Points that are mostly manual sorting and counting with the occasional Reverse Vending Machine. If you use one of the rare Reverse Vending Machine locations it depends on the recycling company as to how you are paid.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch knows the Queensland scheme is under the spotlight by other states.

“Our scheme has been developed following extensive consultation, and we are proud with the model that has been developed,” Ms Enoch said.

This extensive consultation was a four week period of public submissions where they received 2600 individual submissions and 34 from Organisations. Breaking down the individual figure shows that 1724 were via a petition by the Australian Marine Conservation Society, a further 858 from members of the Boomerang Alliance (I assume form letters) which means there were only 18 real submissions and one of these was against a Container Refund Scheme.

To be proud of the model that they “developed” is hard to understand, they copied the same outdated model that the other states have adopted and have ignored overseas experience.

Implementing Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme – Discussion Paper

Implementing the Container Refund Scheme in Queensland – Results of consultation

Waste Reduction and Recycling (Container Refund Scheme) Regulation 2018

COEX Board Acting Chair Alby Taylor said

“Our aim is to build a sustainable, world-class container refund scheme.”

Queensland Government Media Statement Sunday October 21, 2018

The phrase world-class is thrown around by politicians when trying to sell us on their idiotic plans by pretending to the masses that we are among the world’s best and this usage of the phrase is no exception.

world-class [wurld-klas, -klahs]
ranking among the world’s best; outstanding:  [Dictionary.com]
being of the highest caliber in the world: [Merriam-Webster]

It will become apparent that the Queensland Container Refund Scheme is as far from world-class that you can get.

Operation

The scheme is operated by COEX (Containers Exchange) that operates under the name Containers for Change and funded by the beverage manufacturers who have to pay the operating costs that range from the cost of collection, sorting, counting, transport and so on but they have passed these costs on to the consumer.

Every three months the cost of the scheme will be reassessed and adjusted.

Mr Alby Taylor, Container Exchange Board Chair, indicated that the estimated weighted average cost for the start of the Queensland scheme was 10.2 cents per container supplied.

Material Type [source]Cents per unit sold (ex GST)
Aluminium9.9
Glass10.5
HDPE10.6
PET10.3
LPB10.6
Expected weighted average by number of containers sold 10.2

This example from Woolworths shows a 24 pack of Coke at $20 will now cost $22.72. GST is also paid on the deposit but this is not refunded so effectively you pay 11c per container plus a share of the running costs and you are only refunded 10c per container.

$20 + $2.47 deposit and administration + $0.25 GST = $22.72.

24 containers x 10.2c = $2.45 extra, the Woolworths example is 11.3c. The public have been misled again.

In Germany the cost of the product is shown separately and the Pfand is shown as an additional price on the shelf. This is much more transparent and the other benefit of showing it as a separate price is that you know what you can return to get your deposit back.

The cost of operation for 8 months (November 2018 to June 2019) was

  • Revenue of $195,573,000 (deposit on containers sold and sale of recycled goods).
  • Container Refund Expense of $54,800,000 (refund to consumers for deposits)
  • Surplus after costs $27,927,000 (profit)
  • Operation costs $140,773,000

Only around 28% was returned to consumers, the rest was taken in running costs in what is an incredibly inefficient operation.

Full details can be found in the Container Exchange Annual Report 2018-2019 | Queensland Container Refund Scheme

Refunds

There are a multitude of options for Refunds and these vary from site to site and from region to region (there are 14 different regions setup for this scheme). Bottles and cans purchased from another state are not eligible for the refund.

Aside from the issues with Container Refund Points in the next section just getting paid can be an exercise in frustration requiring lengthy complaints to obtain small refunds.

Bank Account

You can create a Scheme Account with Containers for Change (COEX) and supply your bank details for refunds into your bank account. There are a number of references to an app called Containers for Change but this does not seem to exist. Many of the Container Refund Points will be Drop-off where you drop off your containers in bags and these are manually counted with the deposit transferred to your bank account two to three weeks later.

Cash

Some Container Refund Points will offer cash refunds.

Donation

Most Container Refund Points will offer donations as an option.

PayPal

At TOMRA sites you can link their app with your PayPal account and receive your refund from Reverse Vending Machines this way.

Voucher

TOMRA sites are affiliated with Woolworths and will offer you a Woolsworths voucher, Envirobank sites are affiliated with Coles and will offer you a Coles voucher. The voucher at TOMRA sites will be via the app if you used it otherwise it will be via paper voucher.

Recycling Locations (Container Refund Points)

The government claims that over 230 CRPs are available from day one however the 241 on the list that 40 are TBA! See list below. There are only 201 locations available from day one according to the list provided by the government and further some of the locations are “pop up” facilities that will only operate on an part-time basis like weekends.

A searchable map is available on the Containers for Change Website.

There are five types of Contain Refund Points, depots, drop-offs, Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs), mobile and pop-ups, and Donation Points.

The population of Queensland is 4.691 million (December 2013) so there is one site per 23,338 people.

SuburbAddressType
Acacia Ridge28 Elizabeth Street - VinniesDrop off - Return-It
Agnes Waters91 Rocky CrossingMobile - CQ Recycling
Albany CreekAlbany Creek Road and Wruck CrescentDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Alexandra Headland167 Alexandra ParadeDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
AllenstownTBADrop off
AnnandaleAnnandale CentralDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
AnnerleyTBADrop off - Return-It
Arana Hills5/131 Bunya RoadDepot - U Can Recycle
Archerfield17 Boniface Street - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Arundel11 Byth Street - AEIOUDrop off - Return-It
Ashmore1/16 Hinde StreetDepot - Envirobank Recycling
AspleyAspley HypermarketDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
AthertonRailway Line - VinniesDrop off - Return-It
Banyo915 Nudgee RoadDepot - Envirobank Recycling
BargaraTBADrop off - Return-It
Beenleigh61 Alamein Street - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
BenowaBenowa VillageDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Bigerra WatersTreasure Cove Shopping Centre - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Biggenden27 Edward StretMobile - U Can Recycle
BilingaBilinga Surf Life Saving ClubDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Biloela156 Calvale RoadDepot - Biloela Recycling
BlackwaterCapricorn HighwayDepot - Kanga Bins
BoonahHigh Street - VinniesDepot - Return-It
BowenBowen Bowls ClubDrop off - Anything Environmental
Brendale256 Leitchs Road - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
BrightonTBADrop off - Return-It
BroadbeachKurrawa Surf Life Saving ClubDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Bromelton36 Waste Facility RoadDrop off - Beaudesert Transfer Station
Browns Plains58 Eastern Road - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Browns PlainsCnr Browns Plains Road and Mt Lindesay HighwayDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
BucasiaTBADrop off - Anything Environmental
Buderim10 Kayleigh DriveDepot - Envirobank Recycling
Bundaberg31-33 Victoria StreetDepot - ABC Recycling
Bundaberg78 University DriveDepot - Impact Community Services
Bundaberg70 Princess Street - LifelineDrop off - Return-It
Bundaberg North4/121 George StreetDepot - CQ Recycling
BundallTBADrop off - Return-It
Bungalow152 Newell StreetDepot - IMODE
Burkedin32876 Bruce HighwayDepot - AMDETT Services and Plastic Recycling
Burleigh Heads5-7 Kortum Drive - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Burleigh WatersTBADrop off - Return-It
Burleigh WatersTreetops PlazaDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Burnett Heads699 Bundaberg-Bargara RoadMobile - CQ Recycling
Burpengary290 Bruce Highway - Eastern Service Road - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
BurpengaryBurpengary Central Shopping CentreDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Caboolture16 Machinery ParadeDepot - Caboolture Scrap Metal
Caboolture686 The Abbey PlaceDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
CairnsFranzmann StreetDepot - Palm Tree Recyclers
CalliopeCalliope Bunting Park - Archer StreetMobile - CQ Recycling
Caloundra1 Spender LaneDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Cannon HillTBADrop off - Return-It
Cannonvale3102 Shute Harbour Road - VinniesDrop off - Return-It
Canungra2036 Beaudesert - Nerang RoadDrop Off - Canungra Transfer Station
Capalaba16/82 Redland Bay RoadDepot - Advanced Metal Recyclers
Capalaba6 Merrit Street (Lifeline)Drop off - Return-It
Capalaba7/71 Redland Bay Road - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Capella5 Hibernia RoadDepot - Kanga Bins
Charters Towers50 Aland StreetDepot - Cash 4 Containers
CherbourgStan Mickelo DriveDepot - Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council
Childers71 Churchill StreetMobile - U Can Recycle
Chinchilla19 Malduf StreetDepot - Western Downs Outreach Project
ClermontClermont Grand HotelDrop off - Anything Environmental
Cleveland25-32 Shore Street - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
CollinsvilleStanley StreetDrop off - Anything Environmental
Coochiemudlo IslandCoochiemudlo Surf Life Saving ClubDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
CooktownMacMillan StreetDepot - Auwaste
Coolangatta2 Snapper Rocks RoadDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Coolum Beach1775-1779 David Low WayDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Crestmead67-69 Rai DriveDepot - TOMRA
Currajong216-230 Woolcock Street - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Currumbin741 Pacific ParadeDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Dalby95 Cunningham Street - LifelieDrop off - Return-It
Darra18 Sumners RoadDepot - The Big Red Shed
DeeragunTBCMobile drop off
Dicky BeachDicky Beach Surf Life Saving ClubDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
DraytonAnzac Avenue and Boothby Street - LifelineDrop off - Return-It
Dugandan10 Evans RoadDrop off - Boonah Transfer Station
DystartJolly Collier HotelDrop off - Anything Environmental
Eagleby104 River Hills Road - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Earlville479 Mulgrave Road - VinniesDrop off - Return-It
Emerald10 Glasson StreetDepot - Return-It
Emu ParkEmu Park, Scenic HwyDepot - Kanga Bins
Esk2 Heap StreetMobile - Pipeliner Park
Fernvale1483 Brisbane Valley HighwayMobile - Fernvale Futures Centre
Forest LakeTBADrop off - The Big Red Shed
Garbutt37-41 Mackley StreetDepot - Return-It
Gatton64 Fords RoadDepot - Gatton Tip Shop
Gatton9 Byrne Street - VinniesDrop off - Return-It
GayndahBurnett HotelMobile - U Can Recycle
Geebung428 Bilsen RoadDepot - TOMRA
Geebung8 Railway Parade - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Gladstone66 Yarroon StreetDepot - CQ Recycling
Gladstone29 Chappell StreetDepot - Kanga Bins
GladstoneTBADrop off - Return-It
Goondiwindi81 Hungerford StreetDepot - E&E Waste
Gordonvale62 Norman Street - VinniesDrop off - Return-It
Gordonvale1 Brody StreetDepot - Cash 4 Containers
GracemereCorner of Allen Road and Lucas StreetDepot - Kanga Bins
GympieSmith StreetDepot - Return-It
Hervey Bay9 Industrial AvenueDrop off - Cleanaway
HillcrestTBADrop off - Return-It
Howard79 William StreetMobile - U Can Recycle
InalaTBADrop off - The Big Red Shed
Ingham21 Challands StreetDepot - MAMS
Inglewood750 Pump Station RoadDrop Off - E&E Waste
Innisfail5-7 Dickson RoadDepot - MAMS
Innisfail42 Ernest Street - VinniesDrop off - Return-It
JimboombaTBADepot - Return-It
Jindalee24 Goggs RoadDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Kallangur1473 Anzac Avenue - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Karalee259-277 Mt Crosby RoadDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Kedron46 Millway StreetDepot - Return-It
KenmoreTBADrop off - Return-It
KensingtonTBADrop off - Return-It
KeperraTBADrop off - Return-It
Kilcoy32-40 D'Aguilar HighwayMobile - Yowie Park
Kilkivan27 Bligh StreetDepot - Post Office
Kingaroy189 Kingaroy Street - LifelineDrop off - Return-It
Kunda Park5 Pike StreetDepot - TOMRA
Laidley63 Burgess RoadDrop off - Laidley Transfer Station
Lawnton690 Gympie Road - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Logan Central114 Wembley Road - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Logan CentralWoodridge PlazaDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Loganholme61-65 Bryants RoadDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Lutwyche554 Lutwyche RoadDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
MacGregor555 Kessels RoadDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
MackayTBADrop off - Anything Environmental
Mackay287 Shakespeare Street - LifelineDrop off - Return-It
Main BeachSouthport Surf Life Saving ClubDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Manunda16 Adelaide StreetDrop off - Return-It
Marcoola64-76 Marcoola EsplanadaDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Mareeba138 Walsh Street - VinniesDrop off - Return-It
Mareeba11 Bowers StreetDepot - Cash 4 Containers
Margate25 Beaconsfield Street - LifelineDrop off - Return-It
MarianTBADrop off - Anything Environmental
Maroochydore25 First AvenueDrop off - Return-It
Maryborough3 Kingston DriveDepot - U Can Recycle
Maryborough300 Kent StreetDrop off - U Can Recycle
Maryborough20 Gympie Road - LifelineDrop off - Return-It
MeadowbrookL13 Facilities Lane - AEIOUDrop off - Return-It
Mermaid BeachTBADrop off - Return-It
Mermaid Beach172 Hedges AvenueDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Mermaid BeachNobby's Beach Life Saving ClubDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
MiddlemountMiddlemount HotelDrop off - Anything Environmental
Molendinar3-9 Precision Drive - SalvosDepot - Return-It
MontoGrand HotelMobile - U Can Recycle
MooloolabaMooloolaba Surf Life Saving ClubDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
MoranbahBlack Nugget HotelDrop off - Anything Environmental
Morayfield158-166 Morayfield Road - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Mossman13/5 Pioneer CloseDepot - Port Douglas Recycling
Mount IsaJessop DriveMount Isa City Council
Mount Morgan78 James StreetDepot - K.L Webster
Mount PleasantGrand View DriveDrop off - Anything Environmental
Moura44-46 Dawson HighwayDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Mudgeeraba196-206 Highfield DriveDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
Murarrie913 Lytton RoadDepot - United Scrap Metal
Nambour9-13 Mill StreetDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine - Envirobank Recycling
NeboTBADrop off - Anything Environmental
Nerang23-25 Station Street - SalvosDrop off - Return-It
Newstead52 Doggett Street -SalvosDrop off - Return-It
NewtownTBADrop off- Return-It
Noosa HeadsNoosa Fair Shopping Centre, 10 Lanyana WayDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
NoosavilleTBADrop off- Return-It
North MackayJohn Breen Park, Malcolmson Street, Malcolmson StDrop off- Return-It
North MackayBassett St, Cnr Brewers Rd & Broad StDrop off- Return-It
Oakey77 Campbell StreetDepot - Post Office
OoraleaTBADrop off- Return-It
OrmistonTBADrop off- Return-It
OxenfordTBADrop off- Return-It
Oxley63 Factory Road - VinniesDrop off- Return-It
Paget19 Interlink CourtDepot - Return-It
Paget42 Crichtons Road - Incredables DepotDepot - Return-It
Palm Beach2 Eighth Avenue - SalvosDrop off- Return-It
Palm BeachTBADrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
Palm Island48 The EsplanadeDepot- Return-It
Parkhurst334 Leichhardt StreetDepot- Return-It
Peregian SpringsPeregian Springs Shopping Centre, 1 Ridgeview DriveDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
PialbaTBADrop off- Return-It
Pittsworth37 Grevillea Street, PO Box 432Depot- Pittsworth Metals
ProserpineProserpine Metropole Hotel, 80 Main StDrop off- Return-It
Raceview30 East Owen streetDrop off- Return-It
Red Hill80 Gelnrosa Road - SalvosDrop off- Return-It
Redbank PlainsRedbank Plains Rd & Argyle StDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
RedcliffePeninsula Surf Life Saving Club, Lot 1 Marine ParadeDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
RedcliffeAshmole Road & Klingner RoadDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
Rosewood25 John Street - VinniesDepot - Return-It
Rothwell739 Deception Bay Road - SalvosDrop Off - Return-It
Runaway BayRunaway Bay Shopping Village, Cnr Bayview St & Lae DrvDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
Rural ViewNorthern Beaches, Carl Court, 2 Rosewood DriveDrop Off - Return-It
Salisbury655 Toohey RoadDepot - TOMRA Collection
Samford ValleySamford Vally Commons, Mt Samson RoadDepot - Carticus Projects Pty Ltd
Sandgate77 Rainbow Street - SalvosDrop off- Return-It
SarinaSarina Leagues Club, Broad StDrop off- Return-It
SarinaTBADrop off- Return-It
SeaforthSeaforth Reserve RoadDrop off- Return-It
Seventeen Mile Rocks9 Counihan RoadDepot - TOMRA Collection
Sherwood450 Sherwood Road - SalvosDrop off- Return-It
Sinnamon Park532 Seventeen Mile Rocks Road - SalvosDrop off- Return-It
Slacks CreekTBADrop off- Return-It
South MackayMilton Street South MackayDrop off- Return-It
South Toowoomba689-691 Ruthven StreetDrop off- Return-It
Southport15 Nind Street - SalvosDrop off- Return-It
SpringfieldTBADrop off- Return-It
Springsure53 Gap StreetDepot- Kanga Bins
St Lucia342 Carmody RoadDepot - Post Office
Stanthorpe14 Maryland StDepot - Post Office
StratfordTBADrop off- Return-It
Sumner ParkTBADrop off- Return-It
SunnybankSunnybank Plaza Shopping Centre, 358 Mains RdDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
Surfers Paradise51 Garfield TerraceDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
Tamborine Mountain137 Knoll RdDrop off- Return-It
Taroom14 Yaldwyn StreetDepot - Kanga Bins
TexasTexas-Inglewood RoadDrop off- Return-It
Thuringowa CentralTBADrop off- Return-It
Tingalpa302-308 New Cleveland RoadDepot - TOMRA Collection
Tingalpa1469 Wynnum RoadDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
Toowoomba3/19 Carrington RoadDepot - E & E Waste
Toowoomba169 James StreetDepot - TOMRA Collection
Townsville275 Flinders Street - SalvosDrop off- Return-It
TownsvilleUnit 2/14 Keane StreetDepot - Reef Townsville Site
TugunTBADrop off- Return-It
TullyTully Showground - Butler StreetMobile - Tully Mobile
Tully26/58 Butler Street - VinniesDrop off- Return-It
Underwood3255 Logan Road - SalvosDrop off- Return-It
Varsity Lakes2 Flint CourtDepot - TOMRA Collection
Victoria PointTBADrop off- Return-It
WalkerstonTBADrop off- Return-It
Warwick30 King Street - lifelineDrop off- Return-It
West End281 Montague RoadDepot - TOMRA Collection
West EndTBADrop off- Return-It
West Ipswich355 Brisbane StreetDepot - TOMRA Collection
West IpswichTBADepot - Return-It
Woorabinda116 Munns StreetDepot - Kanga Bins
WoorimTBADrop off- Return-It
Woree14 Spoto Street - VinniesDepot - Return-It
Wynnum119 Bay Terrace - SalvosDrop off- Return-It
Wynnum WestWynnum Plaza Shopping Centre, 2021 Wynnum RdDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
YandinaTBADepot - Return-It
YarrabahThe EsplanadeDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Cash 4 Containers

Queensland’s container refund scheme commenced on 1 November 2018, with more than 230 container refund points in operation across the state. The number of these sites will continue to grow as the scheme rolls out.

[source]

There are currently 33 locations in the Brisbane area, however if you remove the small drop off locations that are an add-on to an existing retail location such as Salvos, Vinnies and Post Offices the number drops to 17 and if we only look at locations that have Reverse Vending Machines this drops to 9.

Nine locations with Reverse Vending Machines to service a population of 2.177 million people (as at 2014). Looking at all 33 locations this is 65,969 people per location, taking out the smaller add-on locations this is 17 locations each servicing 128,058 people and the Reverse Vending Machine locations have to service 241,888 people.

Looking at two of the larger facilities with Reverse Vending Machines in Brisbane the TOMRA site at West End will have parking for 35 vehicles and Geebung with parking for 13 vehicles.

SuburbAddressType
Acacia Ridge28 Elizabeth Street – VinniesDrop off – Return-It
Albany CreekAlbany Creek Road and Wruck CrescentDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine – Envirobank Recycling
Arana Hills5/131 Bunya RoadDepot – U Can Recycle
Archerfield17 Boniface Street – SalvosDrop off – Return-It
AspleyAspley HypermarketDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine – Envirobank Recycling
Brendale256 Leitchs Road – SalvosDrop off – Return-It
Capalaba16/82 Redland Bay RoadDepot – Advanced Metal Recyclers
Capalaba6 Merrit Street (Lifeline)Drop off – Return-It
Capalaba7/71 Redland Bay Road – SalvosDrop off – Return-It
Cleveland 25-32 Shore Street – SalvosDrop off – Return-It
Darra18 Sumners RoadDepot – The Big Red Shed
Geebung428 Bilsen RoadDepot – TOMRA
Geebung8 Railway Parade – SalvosDrop off – Return-It
Jindalee24 Goggs RoadDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine – Envirobank Recycling
Lutwyche554 Lutwyche RoadDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine – Envirobank Recycling
MacGregor555 Kessels RoadDrop off and Reverse Vending Machine – Envirobank Recycling
Murarrie913 Lytton RoadDepot – United Scrap Metal
Newstead52 Doggett Street -SalvosDrop off – Return-It
Oxley63 Factory Road – VinniesDrop off- Return-It
Red Hill80 Gelnrosa Road – SalvosDrop off- Return-It
RedcliffePeninsula Surf Life Saving Club Lot 1 Marine ParadeDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
RedcliffeAshmole Road & Klingner RoadDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
Salisbury655 Toohey RoadDepot – TOMRA Collection
Sandgate77 Rainbow Street – SalvosDrop off- Return-It
SeventeenMile Rocks 9 Counihan RoadDepot – TOMRA Collection
Sherwood450 Sherwood Road – SalvosDrop off- Return-It
Sinnamon Park532 Seventeen Mile RocksRoad – Salvos Drop off- Return-It
St Lucia342 Carmody RoadDepot – Post Office
Tingalpa302-308 New Cleveland RoadDepot – TOMRA Collection
Tingalpa1469 Wynnum RoadDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling
West End281 Montague RoadDepot – TOMRA Collection
Wynnum119 Bay Terrace – SalvosDrop off- Return-It
Wynnum WestWynnum Plaza Shopping Centre 2021 Wynnum RdDrop Off and Reverse Vending Machine- Envirobank Recycling

108 of the locations are operated by Return-It who perform manual sorting and counting when you drop in your containers. Their locations include depots and drops-off points in charity stores, most of which are open limited hours on weekends. To use the drop-off points you have to place your containers inside a bag and place a label on the bag with your Scheme Account ID or Donation Point ID and the refund will be transferred to your bank account in two to three weeks after they are counted manually.

The bag must not be a single use plastic bag but the requirement varies depending on who runs the location. Some say they must be a re-usable clear bag like a rubbish bag, others require you to use their bags with a drawstring but they ask you to use a ringpull from a can to close the drawstring and others ask you to use the re-usable bags from the supermarkets. The sites that require a specific bag to be used will often require you to transfer them into the bag on-site from whatever you used to carry them there. The bags are not returned to you.

Your average reusable supermarket bag is $1 and can hold around 15 bottles which you will receive back $1.50 for. After the cost of the bag this is 50c returned and doesn’t include the costs of the next issue.

There are additional requirements at Container Refund Points.

Envirobank required you to put in exactly 50 containers into their bags or they would invalidate your refund. If you returned 501 containers to Envirobank they required you to make and supply a Statutory Declaration for $50.10 worth of containers.

Lids have to be removed because of the risk to the staff at the Container Refund Points of them flying off and they can’t or won’t recycle the lids.

Special Bags are required by Envirobank but they have run out of them and only allow you to have three bags at a time so the most you can return is 150 containers for a refund of $15. If you don’t use their bags you don’t get a refund.

Another issue is making special trips to return containers. Most Queensland households currently have a recycle bin that is collected every fortnight but are now expected to put the suitable containers aside until they have enough to justify driving to a  Container Refund Point.  Assuming an average round trip of 10km this is a cost of $6.60 using the ATO per kilometer rate of 66c and doesn’t include the time lost on something that is pointless. The average CO2 emissions for a light vehicle in Australia is 188 grams per kilometre so that is 1.88kg of emissions per trip.

The average aluminium 375ml can weighs 14.9 grams (Australian Aluminium Council) and the amount of CO2 released from creating 1 tonne of aluminium is 1.5 tonnes (Greener Industry). Each can has released 22.35 grams of CO2. If you return less than 84 cans on an average 10km trip you have released more CO2 than the creation of those cans.

To break even from a cost perspective you need to return an average of 66 containers.

Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme Environmental Cost goes into more detail on this.

Container Types

Most aluminium, steel, glass, plastic and some cardboard containers that range in size up to 3 litres can be returned for a refund.

However the following are not

  • plain milk containers
  • glass containers which have contained wine or pure spirits
  • large containers (1L or more) which have contained flavoured milk, pure juice, cask wine or cask water
  • cordial or vegetable juice containers
  • sachets above 250ml which have contained wine
  • registered health tonics.

Reverse Vending Machines

The Queensland Government has decided to give the Reverse Vending Machines a new name “Smart Pods”. This should be retired like our “Smart State” label and we should use the name that the rest of the world uses.

These machines must be expensive or the government would surely have rolled them out like in Germany? You would think that these machines are made of Gold the way in which they are so sparingly dispersed around the state. A standalone non compacting Reverse Vending Machine that takes up the space of an ATM costs around AUD $12,000. Compacting models that crush the cans and plastics enabling them to hold a lot more are also available.

The cost of these machines would likely be cost neutral even in large quantities as the new Container Recycling Scheme is incredibly inefficient.

Statistics

More detail on false claims and statistics can be found in this document.

In the first 8 months of operation the recycling rate was around 28% and this currently sits in the low to mid 30’s which is diferent to the figures from the Government and Container Exchange who run Containers for Change.

The number of customers registered was 188,966 at the end of June 2019.

On the 1st of November 2019 more than a billion containers had been collected after 12 months.

At the start of April 2020 the figure was 1.6 billion containers after 18 months of operation.

Steven Miles the Minister responsible at the time included a claim in a media statement on the 22nd of July 2016 that $25 million could be made by community organisations each year. In the 8 months from November 2018 to June 2019 a total of $863,897 was paid to Charities and Community Groups [page 8 – Financial Report].

Ten cents per container adds up; and in the last 12 months more than $100 million has gone back to individuals, families, community groups and charities, including RSPCA Queensland who have raised about $3500 in donated refunds.

Minister Leeanne Enoch | 1st of November 2019 | One billion containers returned in first year of scheme

The Minister fails to mention that Councils also get some of that $100 million from any containers placed in recycling bins, why is this? To make the scheme look like it only benefits certains groups whilst omitting the ones that receive large amounts?

Other States

NSW

The NSW government’s scheme, launched on December 1, 2017, has been heavily criticised for pushing up the price of drinks without any environmental benefit, given 80 per cent of bottles and cans were already being recycled via yellow bins.

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In April, The Australian reported the five biggest drinks manufacturers — Coca-Cola Amatil, Carlton United Brewers, Lion, Coopers and Asahi — were pocketing $34 million a month in unclaimed “deposits”.

The paper reported that just 13 per cent of eligible bottles and cans were being returned and Exchange for Change, the company formed by the five drinks makers to manage the scheme, simply hands the unclaimed money back to them.

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There has been ongoing criticism of delays ahead of the rollout with some residents having to travel up to three hours to collect their 10 cents and others travelling across the border to save money.

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Western Australia

WOOLWORTHS has warned it could be forced to increase some drink prices by 60 per cent in Western Australia if the State Government pushes ahead with a container deposit scheme similar to the NSW government’s disastrous “Return and Earn” program.

“The CDS will have a significant cost-of-living impact on our customers,” Woolworths government relations manager Richard Fifer wrote. “Based on an increase of 15 cents per item, a 24x600ml pack of Woolworths still water will rise from $6 to $9.60, which is an increase of 60 per cent.”

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Other Countries

Ideally you would look to see how other countries have approached recycling and learn from their experience.

In the Implementing Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme – Discussion Paper there are three countries used as Case Studies; Canada, Norway and California. For some reason they choose not to look at Germany who has probably the simplest system from a consumers perspective.

Germany – Pfandsystem

The Pfandsystem in Germany is not perfect but it’s many many times better then the dogs breakfast that we have implemented in Queensland. The current system was implemented in 2003 and expanded in 2006 however Germany has for a long history of deposits on bottles.

The intention of the Pfand system was to encourage the uptake of Mehrwegflaschen (multi-use refillable plastic and glass bottles) however this has not eventuated with some of the major companies like Coca-Cola switching to Einwegflaschen (single use bottles and cans) due to the logistics of reusing bottles. Multi-use plastic bottles can be reused around 25 times and glass bottles around 50 times.

All stores and supermarkets above a certain size that sell bottled products must have a Pfandrückgabestelle (area to return bottles) generally in the form of a Pfandautomat (Deposit Machine or more commonly known as Reverse Vending Machine). The system is straight forward if you are using single use plastic bottles or cans as generally all machines will accept these bottles or cans with the exception of ones purchased outside Germany or imported products like Fanta Pineapple which is direct imported from the USA.

Where it gets complicated is returning multi-use refillable bottles to different stores or in different regions as some stores may not accept bottles that are irregular shaped or foreign (not sold at that location). Some locations (generally discount stores) will only accept single use bottles and cans as this is all they sell and they have a Reverse Vending Machine that crushes to save space. Stores of under 200m² can restrict the returns to products that they sell.

The Getränkemarkt (equivalent to a bottle shop in Australia) will generally take a much wider range of bottles back and they often have an additional tray in the Reverse Vending Machine for you to put the Crate with empty bottles in so they can be all processed at once.

Generally juice, milk, wine and spirits are not covered by the Pfandsystem as well as the packaging of food products.

The Deutsche Pfandgesellschaft (deposit clearing house) co-ordinates the distribution of the Pfand (deposit).

Pfand rates

(all in Euro)

Multi-use

  • Glass bottles 330 and 500ml – 8c
  • Glass bottles 750 and 1000ml – 15c
  • Plastic 15c
  • Crates (returned full of empty bottles) – €3.10 + the deposit paid on the bottles

Single-use

  • Plastic bottles – 25c
  • Aluminium cans – 25c

Some further reading on the Pfand system in Germany.

How Does The German Pfand System Work, And Is It Effective?

How the system could have worked

The current Container Recycling Scheme is a total shambles, it’s expensive to operate, it requires consumers to make special trips to return containers, it employs thousands of people to manually sort containers and it just makes NO SENSE. Why not allow customers to return their bottles and cans at the point of sale so they don’t need to make a special trip to a recycling centre and all the complexity that is involved in getting a refund.

For the initial roll-out the government should have mandated supermarkets deploy one of these machines per suburb per chain with a long term goal to have these in all supermarkets over a certain size, the costs for deployment are minimal and could be shared by the supermarkets and the producers as they both should take responsibility. The refund can be made via a paper voucher that you present at the checkout, no need to have dozens of complex payment variations that vary from suburb to suburb.

Unfortunately once again the governments in Australia at all levels have totally and utterly failed what could have been a simple roll-out and have placed the burden on taxpayers along with the increased costs and complexity of running the Container Recycling Scheme.

The Queensland Government loaned the Container Recycling Scheme $35 million dollars to start up, if this was spent instead on Reverse Vending Machines it could have purchased over 2900 @ $12,000 each which is three times the number of machines required! In Queensland there are around 600-1000* larger supermarkets (Coles, Woolworths, ALDI, IGA and other independents) so the costs of deploying and all the infrastructure required could have been covered by the cost of starting up the sham system we have now or we could have spent no money and left this to the supermarkets and the producers to fund.

Does it make financial or environmental sense to return bottles and cans via a special trip especially when it would be cheaper to have Reverse Vending Machines at the point of sale?

Thousands of people are employed to sort out bottles and cans mostly manually and process refunds, is this gainful employment or just the creation of jobs to support a poorly thought out and inefficient scheme.

This is a backwards step, most Queensland households have recycling bins that are collected every fortnight but are now forced to make a special trip to perform the exact same task. Someone who always recycles and consumes a small number of products that are covered by the Container Recycling Scheme would find it very hard to justify a journey given the number of containers needed to be collected to offset the running costs and the CO2 emissions. Their options are to collect a large number of containers over a long period and be faced with having to rinse these to stop ants etc from being attracted to them or to effectively throw them away and let someone else take the deposit.

The most effective method for the environment is to place the containers in your recycling bin but this way the council contractors receive the deposit and you lose out as you’re paying for the deposit and the running costs of an incredibly inefficient scheme.

In most circumstances I suspect this will be nothing but a NEW TAX on the people that do the right thing by recycling and never littering.

*Based on a rough estimate based on Coles having 807 in Australia, Woolworths having 995 and ALDI over 500

Recycling in Australia

Australia has an already low rate of recycling which has been impacted by the Chinese decision to stop accepting our recycling as there are limited facilities in Australia to process the recycling so it’s being sent to landfill instead. Large councils like the Ipswich City Council are sending all recycling to landfill as they claim it’s too expensive to recycle. This is further compounded with Australia having some of the highest power prices in the world and a total lack of investment in recycling facilities.

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