Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Bill 2016 [Legislation Debate]

This speech was delivered on 19.10.2016 in the NSW Upper House. You can read the full debate online here.

I welcome the beautifully named Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Bill 2016. This bill does one good thing: It finally establishes a container deposit scheme for New South Wales. I commend not only the words but also the work of my colleague Dr Mehreen Faruqi, who has been championing such a scheme in New South Wales for years. However, this bill also has a series of limitations. I could spend the next 20 minutes detailing these limitations, but I thought I would start by talking about the really good things in the bill.

The first good thing is that New South Wales is finally joining South Australia and the Northern Territory in having container deposit legislation. That is a plain good thing for people who like their creeks not littered with drink containers and who would like our public highways and streets to be much cleaner. This legislation will go a long way to making New South Wales much cleaner. Container deposit legislation is one of the key anti‑littering devices, and we have known that for years. As I noted, I commend the work of my colleague Dr Mehreen Faruqi and the work of the Total Environment Centre headed by Jeff Angel. For years he has also been advocating for container deposit legislation, and he genuinely deserves credit for this legislation finally seeing the light of day in this Parliament.

As a kid I used to crush aluminium cans for 5¢ a pop, I think. I would then deliver these cans in a hessian sack to collection points where they would be weighed, as we were paid by weight. I would then deliver the cans into big metal containers. I know some unscrupulous friends would fill up cans with small rocks, but I never did that. It was an excellent scheme as kids would rummage around for containers in order to get the money. This meant that kids worked as litter removal agents scouring the State to get cans. We were always disappointed when we found steel cans that would not give the return and were also a bugger to squash compared to the aluminium cans.

Of course it makes sense to make those players who most benefit from the distribution of containers also have a core obligation in the container deposit legislation. That is why I particularly commend the amendment that my colleague Dr Mehreen Faruqi will move to ensure that the big retailers are also collection points. They need to be collection points, because millions of these containers are distributed by these players. It makes fundamental sense to have them as mandatory places for collection of these containers. This is logical in that they benefit, they distribute and they should play their part in recovery.

It also makes great logistical sense because many people drive to or take their nanna trolley to the supermarkets, so those supermarkets should be the spots where they can toss in the cans and containers. These supermarkets are central points to which people are already travelling either in their cars or taking nanna trolleys, so they could easily deliver their empty containers and get their refund when they shop. I hope that if this amendment is not passed in the Committee stage, it still becomes the case in New South Wales. This is not a perfect bill, but it is a darned site better than the current state of play. I with my colleagues in The Greens commend the bill to the House.

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