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WA's container deposit scheme is almost here, trading your bottles and cans for cold hard cash

ABC Business logoABC Business 18/07/2019 By Evan Morgan Grahame
Most drink containers consumed outside of the home will be eligible for a 10-cent refund. (ABC News: Andrew O'Connor) © Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation Most drink containers consumed outside of the home will be eligible for a 10-cent refund. (ABC News: Andrew O'Connor)

Western Australia's long-awaited container deposit scheme will be launched next year, with a 10 cent refund on offer for every eligible container returned.

So if you're kicking a few cans around the house, here's everything you need to know on how the scheme will work.

It is designed to encourage people to recycle empty containers and thus reduce litter.

The State Government has also said it would create 500 new jobs, with a special emphasis on employing disabled people and those who have been unemployed long term.

What containers can I cash in?

Most plastic, glass, aluminium, steel and paper-based containers between 150 millilitres and 3 litres are eligible for the 10 cent refund.

That includes beer bottles, soft drink cans, plastic water bottles and smaller flavoured milk cartons.

Containers such as wine, spirit, cordial and plain milk bottles will not be eligible for a refund under the scheme.

State Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the list of refundable items was consistent with other states' schemes.

"Things like wine, for example, you drink wine at home, you put that bottle in the bin," Mr Dawson said.

"The containers that we're including are those that are commonly littered."

When will it start?

The scheme will launch under the banner "Containers for Change" on June 2, 2020.

About 170 full-time or flexible refund points will open on the launch date across the state, and another 59 refund points will open by the end of 2020.

Mr Dawson said WA's scheme would be the most accessible in the country.

"Western Australia will have more collection points, per head of population, than any other state or territory that has a scheme in operation already," he said.

"So, right around the state, wherever you are, you'll have access to a collection point."

What will the refund points look like?

Mr Dawson said plenty of options were being considered, including:

  • Over-the-counter depots giving on-the-spot refunds
  • Drop-and-go facilities with refunds deposited into customers' bank accounts
  • Reverse vending machines stationed outside shopping centres that will accept and scan eligible containers and issue refunds
  • Drive-up refund points for bulk deposits
  • Mobile refund depots

"There's a range of possibilities, but that's the next part of the journey," Mr Dawson said.

"WARRRL, the scheme coordinator, will work that out."

Wait a moment, what's WARRRL?

WARRRL stands for WA Return, Recycle, Renew, and it's the non-profit entity that won the tender process to operate the scheme.

It was established by soft drink giant Coca-Cola Amatil and brewer Lion, two of the biggest beverage manufacturers, but Mr Dawson said measures to guard against conflicts of interest were "quite substantial".

"There's a board, and an independent chair," he said.

"But it is at arm's length [from the beverage industry] and it does have to report to me as Minister, and I've certainly got powers under the Act to take action if I believe something has gone wrong."

WARRRL appointed Sheila McHale, a former Labor state MP, as chair and has board members representing the waste management, recycling and beverage manufacturing industries.

How much will it cost me?

There will likely be a 10 cent increase on the purchase price of eligible items, as the cost of running the scheme will be passed on to beverage companies.

But Mr Dawson said that money could be claimed back when the container is deposited.

"The general community shouldn't feel it in their pocket," he said.

"But what they can be happy with is that we're tackling our recycling rates, encouraging recycling and creating jobs in Western Australia."

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