Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme is a Scam, Rip-Off and a Rort!

More reports continue to come in of people being ripped off by the Container Refund Scheme and the amount of time wasted on trying to get refunds yet the Queensland Government remains silent as it handed off it’s responsibilities to a third party called Containers for Change.

The terms and conditions state that there can be no disputes once you drop off your containers for a refund. Furthermore Containers for Change offer the simple if ridiculous advice to go elsewhere if you’re not happy! Sure let’s waste more fuel and time for a pointless scheme that doesn’t achieve anything that it claims and to top it off they blame customers for being stupid and not knowing what containers can be recycled!

… some people still aren’t sure which containers are eligible and which are ineligible, she said.

If people aren’t happy with the container refund point they have used, they should check what other operators are in their area.

Container for Change

The sooner the state government does what it should have done in the first place the better.

‘Cash for cans’ faces teething problems

DESPITE having 12 months to watch how the cash for cans scheme works in the Tweed, organisers of the Gold Coast’s own version are still facing some serious teething problems.

The Queensland scheme, which incorporates recycling machines and bulk deposits, has been labelled a “rort” and a “rip-off’ by locals who have been short-changed.

The Gold Coast Sun has received multiple complaints from locals who say they have dropped off significant amounts of cans and bottles only to receive meagre amounts of money, and in some cases no money at all.

The Containers for Change scheme offers a 10-cent refund for each eligible container returned for recycling at one of the container refund points, but some locals call it a scam.

Roz Rowe, 50, from Coomera Waters deposited her recyclables at the Salvos store at Oxenford, where it was calculated she would receive a refund of $25.80.

However, she received a total sum of only $3.70 – 36 days after her deposit.

“I was assured payment it would take three to four days,” she said.

“This is a ridiculous amount of time for me to wait for money due.”

Ms Rowe then took $40 worth to the Envirobank on Siganto Drive at Helensvale, but they had run out of orange collection bags.

She then drove to Ashmore, but said the queue was “out the door”.

“By this stage, I had two agitated kids who did not want to wait the hour queue time so we came home. Petrol wasted, time wasted for nothing,” Ms Rowe said.

In a written complaint to Containers for Change, Ms Rowe said the issue was eventually resolved.

Kerry Charlwood from Oxenford complained after she dropped off nine large bags and received only $2.10.

“I put trust in this process,” she said. “My grandchildren have been working hard collecting these bottles and cans.

“I’m not the only person missing money too. The more people who complain, hopefully someone will do something about it.”

There have also been calls to expand the Ashmore depo, with some locals calling it “overloaded” and based on an “honour system”.

Ashmore local Anthony Nicholas wrote on the Containers for Change Facebook page, questioning the validity of the refund process and suggesting there was no way to accurately calculate the appropriate refund.

A Containers for Change spokeswoman said they would be “very concerned” to hear people were not getting correct refunds.

“If anyone believes this is the case they should contact our call centre on 134 242 and provide their scheme ID so we can track what has happened to the containers … some people still aren’t sure which containers are eligible and which are ineligible,” she said.

“If people aren’t happy with the container refund point they have used, they should check what other operators are in their area.”

2nd of February 2019 | Tweed Daily News

Envirobank Container Refund Locations require special bags, Envirobank runs out of special bags!

On top of the Envirobank 50 item per bag policy which if you disregard and put in 49 or 51 items will see your whole bag forfeited and beside the fact that you cannot physically put in 50 1.25l bottles now Envirobank has run out of bags and faced long delays in obtaining more.

Another 250,000 bags have arrived taking the total number of bags in circulation in Queensland to over 600,000 and more are on the way! And to further increase the costs of recycling you can now only have 3 bags at a time so $15 is the maximum that you can earn in a single trip to an Envirobank run facility no matter how far you travel. Using the ATOs 66c per km rate this means once you exceed a 22km round trip you are losing money not taking into account time and other costs.

Container refund locations source of frustrations

COMPLAINTS have continued to swamp the Envirobank recycling centres as people vent their frustrations over a lack of bags, padlocks on machines and strict refunding rules.

The Queensland Government introduced the container refund scheme on November 1 last year which provides a 10 cent refund payment for select bottles and cans.

Envirobank has more than 30 recycling sites around southeast Queensland.

A common complaint has been about the difficulty getting the required bags to use the recycling machines, despite businesses near each deposit location stocking bags.

Residents have taken to Facebook to air their gripes, with some claiming their local location has been out of bags up to six times when they’ve tried to recycle or the deposit box was locked.

“Bags would be a bonus and unlocking the container at Peregian Springs,” wrote Gail Gear.

“(It) wasn’t unlocked yesterday despite all your advertising saying it would be closed New Year’s Day not New Year’s Eve.”

The company also recently announced, to mixed reactions, that users have to have 50 items in each bag.

“The service is not focused on penalising people for miscounting their bags and while the scheme is still new we will of course exercise leniency when initially presented with ineligible items,” a Envirobank spokesperson wrote on its Facebook.

Envirobank were approached for comment, but failed to respond.

4th of January 2019 | Sunshine Coast Daily

The confusing part of Envirobank’s statement is that they claim that many of the existing 350,000 bags have been taken for other purposes but they claim that there are now 600,000 bags available with the 250,000 that just arrived!

A letter from the Managing Director

Brace yourselves for some really good news! The bags are back. Another 250,000 have landed and are moving into Envirobank’s depots, pods and stockist locations as we speak.

This means we now have 600,000 orange collection bags available to Crunch members across the state. 600,000 of these reusable bags can recycle 30 million containers in a single rotation! And we have even more arriving in the next few months.

Now, we know the bag shortage was a disaster for you – trust us – it was a Disaster (with a capital “D”) for us! Our bags went walkabout at record speed and never found their way home again. They took holidays at the beach – disguised as picnic rugs, they went fishing, snorkelling, camping – you name it. But the bags missed us and we missed them.

21st of February 2019 | Envirobank

Where can I get orange collection bags?

Envirobank’s orange collection bags are available free (in limited quantities) at a number of locations:

Over-the-counter at Bag Stockists
Many of our Drop’n’Go sites now have a nearby bag stockist, this should be your first port-of-call when looking for orange bags. These retailers have been generous enough to offer this service to support their local community to please don’t forget to show them your appreciation!
(*Please note: bag stockists enforce limits of 3 bags per person, per day, to ensure others don’t miss out)

List of pod sites and nearby bag stockists:

POD NAME: Aussie World
BAG STOCKIST: Celebrations Bottle Shop

POD NAME: Aspley Hypermarket
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Brookside Shopping Centre
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Cannon Hill Kmart Plaza
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Chancellor’s Tavern
BAG STOCKIST: Inside tavern

POD NAME: The Creek Tavern
BAG STOCKIST: Bottle ‘O’ Shop

POD NAME: Currumbin State School
BAG STOCKIST: Gecko Environment Council reception

POD NAME: Duporth Tavern
BAG STOCKIST: Inside Tavern

POD NAME: Glasshouse Mountains Tavern
BAG STOCKIST: Thirsty Camel bottle shop

POD NAME: Jindalee Home
BAG STOCKIST: Coles at Jindalee Home Centre

POD NAME: Kirra Beach Hotel
BAG STOCKIST: Liquor Legend

POD NAME: Macgregor Home
BAG STOCKIST: Corrine McMillan MP Office (Mansfield Electorate)

POD NAME: Coles Mt Gravatt Plaza
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Coles Nambour
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Narangba Valley Tavern
BAG STOCKIST: Shane King MP Office (Kurwongbah electorate) Shop 4, 232 Young Rd, Narangba

POD NAME: Pete’s Village Bakery
BAG STOCKIST: Pete’s Village Bakery

POD NAME: Coles Pacific Pines
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Coles Peninsula Fair
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Coles Peregian Springs
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Raceview Hotel
BAG STOCKIST: Star Liquor Raceview

POD NAME: Redbank Plaza
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Runcorn Tavern
BAG STOCKIST: Duncan Pegg MP Office, 5/62 Pinelands Road, Sunnybank Hills

POD NAME: Waves of Kindness
BAG STOCKIST: Sandy Bolton MP Office (Noosa Electorate)

POD NAME: Coles Wynnum West Plaza
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

No stockists in your area yet? We’re working on it! And as more stockists come come online, we’ll add them to this list and in the location details for each specific Drop’n’Go site on our “Where to recycle” map.

Envirobank depots in NSW and QLD
There may be a stack where you can help yourself to a limited quantity of orange bags, or simply ask one of our friendly team members and they’ll give you some.

Envirobank Drop’n’Go pods
On either side of the pod, between the chutes, you will see a hole marked “Replacement Bags”. These bags are topped up every day, however, sadly they seem to jump out of the holes all at once, leaving none for other recyclers. Try as we might, there isn’t a lot we can do to stop this! So get in quick after we’ve topped up each day, otherwise head to a depot or bag stockist.

Envirobank Drop’n’Go

Recycling Plastic Containers and Lids, why is Australia so far behind the rest of the World?

The different Container Recycling schemes running across Australia has shown once again that not having a single federal entity responsible creates a bureaucratic mess with massive duplication in costs for all involved and a minefield with different rules for each state creating confusion about what can and cannot be recycled.

Not a single state has chosen the Reverse Vending Machine model at the point of sale like successful implementations in places like Germany and instead the requirement is for millions of trips to be made to dedicated recycling sites which does nothing but harm the environment.

The next issue is that most states don’t recycle the plastic lids and require you to remove them before you return them and throw them into bins that are destined for landfill. This is contrary to the practices of other countries that have invested in recycling facilities and shows that once again our recycling in Australia in a joke. Organisations like Envirobank further confuse the issue with their ideas on how container lids should be handled and recommend that you put them into your recycle bin or use them for other purposes!

Did you know that the plastic in the lids are different to the plastic in bottles? This means they need to be recycled differently. Not only that, but if recycling batches are contaminated with lids it can mean the whole lot might get sent into landfill (Noooo!).

When lids enter a recycling facility’s sorting process, they often get lost along the way because of their small size and weight, and are then sent on to landfills. What a waste – right!

When lids are included in the recycling at our drop points it can wreak havoc on our machinery – causing technical issues, risking personal injury, and delaying your Crunch Credits being issued! So always make sure to remove the lids before dropping them in.

Loose lids on their own can be too small to be picked up by depot sorting machines which means they often get sorted out and end up in landfill.

Place your loose lids into a larger plastic bottle, like a milk bottle, before adding them to your yellow council bin for recycling so they are contained and make their way through the recycling machines.

Look for alternative ways to reuse them. For example, ask if your local schools and pre-schools would like to take some for their craft-hour.

23rd of June 2019 | Envirobank

The truth is that the lids don’t need to be removed as they can be recycled at the same time as the bottles and automatically separated during the washing process. If the lid is removed before this occurs it will likely end up in landfill. Some Australian States and organisations will tell you to remove the lid and put it into a recycling bin but this will see it likely end up in landfill due to it’s size.

In fact by being told that we can recycle without the lids this has created an issue with bottle lids now being in the top 5 items being found in beach cleaning and litter monitoring around the world. The top 5 in order of number are

  1. Fishing Gear
  2. Plastic Bags and Utensils
  3. Balloons
  4. Cigarette Butts
  5. Bottle Caps

In the summer of 2016, The North Sea Foundation and more than 2,000 volunteers picked up as many bottle caps as they could find along the entire Dutch North Sea coast. These bottle caps were analysed one by one. The survey shows the quantity, type and origins of the bottle caps that pollute the North Sea and its beaches.

The biggest issue in Australia is that we generally just send our recycling to other countries for them to deal with and each council area differs in their approach, some even send recycling to landfill directly as we have seen many times recently.

The following is from The Association of Plastic Recyclers who have an excellent FAQ that illustrates how far behind we are in Australia.

Caps On – Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve always heard that plastic recyclers needed caps to be taken off? Why make the change?
Two key reasons: First, when recycling gets easier, participation goes up. APR is dedicated to boosting participation in recycling programs. Second, the cap material is recyclable. Why dispose something that could be recycled? In the past the plastics recycling industry was not able to effectively recycle bottles with caps on so the message to remove the cap was created. Recycling collection and processing technology has improved, demand for the recyclable material has increased allowing the current caps on recycling message and process.

Are recycled caps marketable?
Yes. Generally, caps are made out of high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) – both of these have high demand from applications in both domestic and export markets.

Caps are usually made of a different type of plastic than bottles. Do they have to be recycled separately?
No. Although closures may be made of a different material than the bottle, bottles are ground into flake before being vigorously washed in the recycling process. The washed cap material is then separated from the bottle material during a water bath float/sink process. PET will sink, PP and HDPE will float. Both materials are then recycled into new items.

Should bottles and containers be flattened before replacing the cap?
APR’s primary message is EMPTY AND REPLACE CAP. According to a recent MRF Material Flow Study, flattening bottles can lead to improper sortation, and they may end up in the paper stream. Retaining a 3D form can help containers be successfully sorted.

Can bales of bottles with caps on be marketed at the same rate as bales without caps?
Yes. APR’s model bale specifications do not downgrade for the inclusion of caps. APR member companies regularly buy and recycle bales of caps-on bottles and containers.

Can I get a good bale compaction rate with caps on bottles?
Yes. Good bale density is important – too light and it’s hard to hit load requirements. Too tight and the material is over compacted, and recyclers cannot break them apart very well. While the answer varies by the type of baler, generally speaking 100-120psi of pressure should allow most balers to compress plastic bottles with caps on. Large-scale 2 ram systems, most commonly used in MRFs, should have no trouble as they often range in the 150-300+ psi range. A single ram, closed door baler usually operates at 70-120 psi. While larger balers of this format should be fine, those running at the low end of that range will generally have trouble securing a good bale. A single ram extrusion auto tie also needs to operate more at 100-120psi range but there’s some finesse needed. By running a load of cardboard before the bottles, the operator then gains something hard to push against and should be able to reach compaction.

Must the bottles go through a perforator machine before baling in order to get a good compaction rate?
Generally, no. Most current Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) do not operate a perforation machine to puncture the bottles before baling. Heavy duty horizontal balers take care of the job using plenty of pressure.

Will the caps shoot off during baling?
APR strongly suggests all baler safety equipment such as guards be left untampered, unmodified, and unchanged to prevent incidents and accidents. Rupturing bottles in a baler can create projectiles and baler manufacturers have included the guards for worker protection.

Are there things I can do to design my products to make them more recyclable?
Yes. The APR Design® Guide for Plastics Recyclability is the most comprehensive design resource outlining the plastics recycling industry’s recommendations in the marketplace today with the ultimate goal of all plastic packaging to be compatible with the plastics recycling infrastructure. Size and shape are critical parameters in MRF sorting, and this must be considered in designing packages for recycling. Items smaller than three inches in all dimensions are non-recyclable per APR. Most caps are smaller than three inches. If they are not replaced on bottles, they will not be recycled, and end up in the landfill.

Are metal caps really a problem?
Yes. Steel caps may damage machinery and aluminum caps may slow down production. They may cause contamination issues in the float/sink process, as they sink with PET material. Metal caps may also cause plastic bottles and containers to be separated from the plastics stream in the eddy current (magnetic) step of the sortation process at the MRF.

My MRF says that they do not accept caps on plastic containers. What should I do?
Please let them know that APR supports caps and closures to remain on containers before being placed in a recycling cart or bin. We understand that for some MRF’s accepting caps on is readily done and for some it is a challenge. Our message is that the market accepts bales for which the caps and closures are left on the bottles, but the equipment and policies at the local level may take time to adapt. Please feel free to share this information or direct your MRF officials to: www.plasticsrecycling.org.

NSW Government lies about Container Deposit Scheme benefits and the costs

The Return and Earn Scheme

The NSW Government told the suckers people of NSW that cans and bottles make up 43% of all litter and their new Container Deposit Scheme will reduce this by 25%. Impressive numbers as this would be a nearly 11% reduction in litter. They would call this scheme “Return and Earn” when it’s really “Return and get your deposit back”, clearly they don’t understand the definition of the word earn and as will be seen below words like integrity.

The NSW Government is serious about reducing litter.
The Premier has committed to reduce the volume of litter in New
South Wales by 40% by 2020.

The Premier of NSW | September 2015

But of course the NSW Government misled the people of NSW and the only way to find out is if you read the Litter prevention strategy for NSW 2017-2020. The only report you will find is a draft report, the final report was due in the first half of 2018 but we’re almost into the second half of 2019 and it still hasn’t been released. Make of that what you will.

Looking at the volume estimate Container Deposit Scheme beverage containers make up 43% of litter.

If we view this as the number of items and Container Deposit Scheme beverage containers make up 9% of litter.

The earlier estimate from the NSW Government was that a drop of 25% would be achieved which would reduce the 9% by volume to 6.75% which is a drop of 2.25% in the total number of items littered.

Looking at the comparison figures for the period 2005 to 2016 there have already been drops each year so why the rush to implement what became a flawed and expensive Container Deposit Scheme.


The document proceeds to talk about South Australia but only mentions the reduction in containers, it does not talk about a substantial increase in bottle lids.

Checking the statistics on containers does show a decrease in South Australia on the number of beverage containers in the CSIRO Marine Debris Project Final Report Aug 2014.

It’s not all roses in South Australia however because Australian container recyclers refuse to take bottle lids and you have to remove them before you return them. The rest of the world that have container refund schemes take the lids including the machines that crush them in the store so they don’t need to be removed. The flaw in Australia’s recycling is that in South Australia a substantial number of the lids are thrown away and end up on the beaches, in the water, parks and everywhere litter is found. The logical solution to this would be to require the recycling facilities to take the full complete bottle with lid and recycle or dispose of the plastic lid.

In Queensland this is also a safety issue because apparently when being crushed the pressure created can cause the lid to fly off and injure or kill.

The Strategy document claims that the cost of collecting litter in 2016 for councils, public and private land managers and community groups is $180 million per year with claimed savings from a Container Refund Scheme of $45 million a year.

The Real Figures

The NSW Government figures which will frankly be no doubt over-inflated show a reduction in litter of 2.25% however this comes at a cost, a huge cost that all beverage consumers are paying.

In the first three months of the scheme from December 2017 to February 2018 the scheme took in $110 million in deposits and paid out $8.3 million leaving the bottlers with a profit of $101.7 million or $406.8 million for the year.

As is usual in Australia the NSW Government did not want any responsibility for managing the scheme so allowed the five largest beverage companies to set up the Exchange for Change which is used to run and manage the NSW Container Deposit Scheme. This didn’t stop them for hiring over 18 staff to “oversee” the scheme.

Asahi, Carlton United Breweries, Coca-Cola Amatil, Coopers and Lion eagerly setup this new scheme as the NSW Government made no allowances for deposits that are not claimed so these are returned as profit from the scheme to the beverage companies. When does the idiocracy stop? Are the village idiots given priority in government positions?

December 2017 to March 2018 saw 1.556 billion eligible containers were sold in NSW but only 204 million were returned which is 13.1%. Assuming this rate remains the same this is an additional cost to consumers of $406.8 million per year. One of the benefits of this Container Refund Scheme was to reduce the cost for councils in collecting litter but with such a low rate of returns this is unlikely to occur in any meaningful way and the beverage manufacturers are profiting in an obscene manner when these funds would cover the councils costs of litter collection nearly three times.

According to the Return and Earn Media Release each container has between 11.13c and 14.07c added to it but this is based on a much higher recovery percentage so not only is their profit in making it hard for consumers to claim but also in the overstated costs per container. This is a win-win for the companies who setup the scheme and who keep all the excess funds.

Updated figures for December 2017 to January 2019 (14 months but the ABC call it 15 months!?!?!?).

5.446 billion eligible containers sold in this period and 1.3 billion returned has increased the rate of the return to 23% which is lower then it was when they were collected in the roadside recycling bins. However Government figures have it at 54%, are we being lied to again?

Lies, Lies and more Lies

The NSW Environmental Protection Agency’s business case for the setup of a Container Deposit Scheme stated that eligible containers were recycled at a rate of 53%. Other government documents put it at 50% and the following document from the NSW Government puts it at up to 60% and note that they mention that hoarding may occur in the leadup to the Container Deposit Scheme.

We have assumed that the Return and Earn scheme must be prepared to fund a potentially high total recovery rate in the initial months, with NSW kerbside recycling already recovering
as much as 60% of all supplied containers based on available statistics, and the potential for container hoarding prior to December 2017.

NSW Government Return and Earn Scheme Costs | August 2017

The NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton claimed that container recycling had jumped 69% in the twelve months since the scheme began from 32% to 54%.

Which is true?

Looking at key points in the Ministers media release and it looks like the Container Deposit Scheme has been an outstanding success despite the massive cost but has it?

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said Return and Earn has been an outstanding success and changed the way people dispose of empty drink containers.

Eligible drink containers collected and recycled: up by 69 per cent
Eligible drink container litter volume: down 44 per cent
NSW total litter volume: down 48 per cent since 2013

“More than half the drink containers in the marketplace (54 per cent) are now being recovered, compared with the 32 per cent that was being collected in yellow bins before Return and Earn kicked in.

“While litter volume has pleasingly dropped across all litter categories, the largest reduction is from eligible drink containers which now represent an all-time low of 37 per cent of the NSW litter volume stream,” Ms Upton said.

“This means the Premier’s target of a reducing litter in NSW by 40 per cent cut by 2020 is going to be well and truly met – and then some.

“This shows the impact and undeniable success of Return and Earn on reducing litter across the state.

Return and Earn: A billion reasons to celebrate | 2nd of December 2018

Where does the 32% figure come from when NSW Environmental Protection Agency’s figure was 53% and the schemes own figures are up to 60%?

The figure was based on the EPA looking at a cross selection of recycling bins in 29 council areas across the state with 100 households from each council area selected for examination. Households were notified beforehand and were able to opt out. So not only is this not a proper audit of the bins as you have notified residents and given them an opt out right but this audit was performed TWO months AFTER the scheme started so people were stockpiling them to return them so the results are worthless..

So the NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton is using a figure that was collected in a manner that is stupid beyond all comprehension and ignoring all the previous figures because they show that this scheme has achieved nothing! When are politicians going to be held accountable for lying to and misleading citizens to cover up the fact that they have wasted BILLIONS of taxpayer money on a scheme that does nothing!

Ms Upton said that, as a result of Return and Earn, eligible drink container litter volume has dropped by 44 per cent and now represents an all-time low of 37 per cent of the NSW litter volume stream.

Return and Earn breaks records | 18th of January 2018

This is outright deception by the Minister Gabrielle Upton. The recycling rate has increased from 53% to 54% so how it is possible for the litter volume to drop by 7%?

At best the NSW Container Deposit Scheme has increased recycling by 1% and at worst they have decreased by 6%. The true figure is probably somewhere in between so the billions of dollars in setting up the scheme and lost productivity have all be for nothing.

Minister Gabrielle Upton unable to do the maths!

Is it asking too much for a minister earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, a generous pension and a large team of staff to actually know their portfolio?

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton has dodged questions from Ben Fordham over a crucial Return and Earn detail.

Ms Upton insists the container deposit scheme is now “steady” and going “real places” but can’t give a figure on how many containers are going through the vending machines as a percentage of how many containers are sold.

“There are almost 640 million drink containers through the system since it began,” the Minister says.

Ben, “Does that work out to be 10 per cent of the total number of containers that are sold? Or 25 per cent or 50 per cent?”

Minister Upton, “Look, it is a percentage of the drink containers that are sold. Not every drink container, Ben, is going to be put through the system. People are making a choice.”

Ben, “But what is it? 50 per cent? Do you know what it is?”

Despite not being able to answer the question, Ms Upton says the figure wouldn’t determine “whether this scheme is a success”.

“There are many millions of drinks that are eligible to be returned, sold every day,” she says.

“People make choices about whether they will claim back a deposit.

“The strong numbers, just under 640 million drink containers, indicates that lots and lots of people every day are returning it and participating in the scheme.”

Ben has since crunched the numbers, and has the figures.

“The return rate is 27 per cent,” he says. “So out of 100 containers sold, 27 are handed in on average.

“So if 640 million have been handed in in total, the total number of containers sold since December 1, would be approximately 2.3 billion.”

‘Do you know what it is?’ | 30th of August 2018

What other costs are there for the NSW Container Deposit Scheme?

The NEW environmental protection agency requires 18.5 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) staff to oversee the Container Deposit Scheme. The cost of these staff? $2.8 million per year.

NSW Container Deposit Scheme
EPA’s fees for monitoring, compliance and approving containers
24 September 2018

Return and Earn Depots

I’m not going to go into these for NSW, the fact is that there are too few places to return and they don’t have many Reverse Vending Machines (RVM). The system is poorly implemented like the Queensland system and billions of dollars have been wasted on schemes that just make no sense in anyway.

It would have been cheaper, had minimal impact on the environment, had a very high container return rate and been a lot quicker to implement to have Reverse Vending Machines fitted to most supermarkets. This way the consumer can return the containers when they do their shopping next, no need for special trips, no environmental issues with all the travel, no time wasted as it becomes part of your grocery shopping, no need to register to multiple services nor have to work out how it works at another deport. All you do is insert your containers and when you are done you receive a voucher for the supermarket which you can also receive cash for.

The Queensland Container Refund Scheme continues to worsen and what is the cost to the environment?

The Container Refund Schemes (called a different name in every state of course) in Australia are so utterly absurd. I’ve written about the Queensland system and shown that a Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) would have been a fraction of the price and meant that people can return their empty containers when they do their shopping.

We already knew from South Australian experience that depots experiences long queues of cars lined up idling for long periods of time and your average car can hold maybe 200 to 500 containers depending on how many bottles you have and this gives you $20 to $50 but factor in your costs of getting to the deport in time and wear and tear and how much are you really getting back and what cost to the environment are all these trips?

Reed Recycling in Townsville

What a great way to spend the weekend, sitting in your car and sucking on the fumes of the car in front whilst waiting to get a return on a deposit that may end up costing you money to get back.

Reed Recycling in Townsville

And when you do get to the front of the line you get to unload your car, and if you left the bottle caps on to stop them leaking you have to remove them before you hand them over for counting. And don’t crush or otherwise damage the containers or they won’t be accepted if they can’t see the barcode area.

Reed Recycling in Townsville

Job creation in Queensland at work. Instead of using machines that can process these at the point of sale and take care of all the work we get humans to double, triple and quadruple handle the containers.

Container drop off in Bowen

Drop your containers off at some locations but of course they are often full so some people put their labels on your bags! And don’t forget that some companies will keep all your containers if you don’t have the exact number that they specify in the bag. Why would you want to return your containers when you go shopping, it’s much more interesting going on a road trip and burning your fuel.

Staff and contractors have been ripped off by a Charters Towers depot that has since done a runner. Payments being delayed for six or more weeks are still common.

COEX spokesperson Adam Nicholson would not discuss specifics while investigations were ongoing, but said their priority was ensuring customers were not left out of pocket.

“We have seen a massive response, far more than we or anyone else predicted,” he said.

“I think we are experiencing twice the number or volume of containers as seen in New South Wales, so we’ve really load-tested our scheme since day one.

“The positive is that we know where our areas for improvement, are and we’re working really hard behind the scenes.”

COEX spokesperson Adam Nicholson

So Queensland has experienced twice the number or volume of containers as seen in New South Wales? That doesn’t sound correct but surely COEX wouldn’t mislead us?

Between the 1st of November 2018 and I assume the 21st of January 2019 (going by the date on the article) COEX has processed 150 million containers. That is roughly 11 weeks so 13.6 million containers per week.

The NSW system handled 1.3 billion over 14 months so 61 weeks which is 21 million containers a week.

So COEX has been caught misleading the public with false statistics, if I can look them up surely COEX can. Is it asking too much for Government sponsored organisations to actually know the industry they are working in?

Container deposit scheme demand creates mountain of cans at recycling depot

Just when you thought that Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme was already complicated along come additional inane requirements!

The companies and organisations involved in the Container Refund Scheme (CRS) have their own rules on how containers are to be returned and with very few sites having Reverse Vending Machines they require you to register your details including bank account, bag up the containers, return them to a Container Refund Point and wait up to six weeks for a refund after they are manually counted.

If the manual count gives a substantially lower number like it has for many people there is no avenue to dispute this.

Each of these Container Refund Points have their own rules on the types of bags, some will provide you bags but often run out and if this is the case you have to travel to another CRP until you find one with bags that you can use. Most of the Container Refund Points will not let you use single use bags, instead you have to buy from the supermarket stronger multiple use bags and nearly all of them will not accept black bags for the safety of the sorting staff so this requires the purchase of more expensive clear bags.

Now one of the companies that requires you to use their own orange coloured bags Envirobank require you to put in exactly 50 containers, no more and no less or they will declare the bag as ineligible (see below for details). But it continues to get better, you cannot drop off 11 bags or more, if you have 501 containers or more you have to go to a depot and make a Statutory Deceleration which will require you to find a Justice of the Peace to witness the signature. All this for $50.10 or more! You couldn’t make this up!

June 2019 | See below for an update in March 2019 to Envirobanks inane requirements.

Checking their website there is no mention of the 50 container requirement on their How It Works page which shows a very simple process. Further to this they operate an ineligible bag policy that allows them to keep the containers and void your payment so if you put in 49 or 51 containers it’s goodbye refund!

I checked the Queensland Legislation on this and can find no reference to 500 containers however found that NSW requires a statutory declaration to be made that you purchased the containers in NSW so it’s unknown if they impose this requirement in Queensland or not.

Queensland Legislation does contain this however but it is not clear where and when this applies.

Division 3 Refund amounts for empty containers 20 Bulk quantity—Act, s99T New section 20 defines bulk quantity, for the purposes of providing a refund declaration to a container refund point operator, as at least 1,500 empty containers.

Container Refund Scheme Regulation 2018

Looking at their terms of service shows even more strange requirements including their right to keep your containers without paying you compensation if you include any ineligible containers or waste.

This is also confirmed on a popular forum.

One of the recycling scheme vendors in Queensland (Envirobank) just announced that they will only accept bags that have exactly 50 containers in it. If you have less, you forfeit the entire bag. I exclusively use 1.25L bottles and therefore it is impossible to get 50 into a bag. This is getting beyond ridiculous. I clearly won’t use them anymore but my incentive to use this scheme in general is further diminished.

Whirlpool Post

The even have instructions on how to use the bags, instead of creating a bag that is easy to use they have instead forced the onus onto those returning containers to figure out a solution.

Q. How do I close my orange bags properly?

A. It may seem like a silly question, but it’s more complicated than you think.

You know that the product your delivering is overly complex when you need such lengthy instructions on closing a bag and which make you have such lengthy terms and conditions and terms of service.

All this for a Container Refund Scheme that is truly a fantastic example of Idiocracy. The CRS could have required Reverse Vending Machines to be installed at Supermarkets so you can return your containers from the place you purchased them from when you go shopping. But why go simple, logical and cheap when you can do the opposite?

Update | Envirobank have changed their terms of service March 2019

Whilst they have updated a few areas even a more recent FAQ entry from April 2019 says that you should stick to 50 containers per bag.

April 2019 | Envirobank FAQ

You can mix your eligible containers in each bag, regardless of material type, but we do ask that you please stick to 50 containers per bag.

Updated Terms of Service | Envirobank

In order to use the Drop’n’Go Service, you must:(5.1.a) Before you drop-off Your Eligible Beverage Containers at a Drop’n’Go Location, ensure that You place a Maximum of 50 Eligible Beverage Containers inside an Envirobank orange collection bag with a QR code attached to the bag (Eligible Bag). At most Drop’n’Go Locations, the orange collection bag will have a QR code affixed to the bag. If You are dropping-off at a Drop’n’Go Location in NSW, You must affix a swing tag with a QR code to the drawstring of the orange collection bag.
(5.1.b) Either:
Scan the QR code on each Eligible Bag using the QR code scanner function of the Website (Your mobile device may request temporary permission for the Website to access the camera on Your mobile device in order to scan the QR code); or
Type the QR code in manually for each Eligible Bag,
while logged into Your Account on the Website. It is Your responsibility to ensure that each QR code has been accurately entered into Your Account on the Website before dropping off your Eligible Bag(s) at the Drop’n’Go Location.
(c) Only drop-off a maximum of 10 Eligible Bags in a single Drop’n’Go deposit. Deposits greater than 500 containers should be made at a depot and a Statutory Declaration completed, as a requirement of the Scheme.

Terms of Service | Envirobank

And they now have a FAQ that says you will be paid for every item contrary to the experience of others before they updated their terms of service.

What if my bag doesn’t contain 50 eligible containers?

Regardless of the number of containers in your bag, you’ll still be paid for every eligible container you deposit. (In accordance with the Act)

However it may take a little while longer for your containers to be processed and for you to receive your payment, compared to our ultra-popular 50 container express service.

Why is it better to pack your bags with 50 eligible containers? Find out here

(*Spoiler: it’s faster, hassle-free, and we give you imaginary gold stars every time you do it!)

Envirobank FAQ

Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme now requires lids to be removed for safety!

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?

28th of November 2018 | Containers for Change Queensland

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.

8th of June 2019 | Containers for Change Queensland

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?

Containers for Change Frequently Asked Questions

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.
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/

17th of June 2019 | Containers for Change clarifies lid refund claims

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?
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.

RecyclersSA FAQ and Adelaide Hills Recycling Centre FAQ

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

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.

NSW Government FAQ FAQ FAQ

South Australia

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

Northern Territory

Western Australia

Being run by the same organisation as Queensland so likely the same.

Queensland Feedback

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