Greens MLC Ian Cohen’s bid to see NSW implement a container deposit/recovery scheme suffered a setback in State Parliament today.

“Today in Parliament my Private Member’s Bill – the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Recovery) Bill 2008 – was voted down. A simple plan to recycle containers was tossed aside by the Opposition and the Government like yesterday’s Coke bottle,” Mr Cohen said.

“This Government, which we all know could use a little popular support, lost an opportunity for an easy win today and they threw away a $33.8 million income stream from the recycling market.

“The Government argued today that the only response to container recycling is a national response. The legislation I proposed will integrate with any national schemes and, after all, South Australia has managed to run its own show for years.

“We have been waiting years for action on this issue and at the last meeting of the Environment and Heritage Protection Council (EPHC) the States’ environment ministers agreed to do a ‘community attitude survey’ on preparedness to pay for a container deposit scheme. Yet more procrastination, yet more rubbish mounting up.”

Mr Cohen said the Government had voted against substantially reducing rubbish on our streets, beaches and parks; slashing council rates, providing consumers with an easy incentive to recycle and creating hundreds of green jobs.

“The Bill was a no-brainer for popular appeal and an easy fix for the environment,” he said.

“It replicates the South Australian scheme where consumers would get a 10 cent return on their containers. Several independent polls have shown that more than 90% of people already support recycling – people are crying out for action on this.

“We are five years away from the proposed NSW Waste Recovery target for a 66% increase in recycling by 2014. From 2002-2008 in NSW it was only 2%.

“At this rate it will take decades to reach that goal. In South Australia the recycling rate is over 80%, compared with the NSW rate less than 40%.

“Councils want container deposit schemes and many of them have already voted to adopt them. NSW councils will save around $19.9 million a year. Our rates could be cut if councils didn’t have to collect and dispose of containers.

“A 10 cent container return scheme would provide councils with a new income source. They could collect the 10c from returning containers left in kerbside recycling. Councils will also return savings in landfill fees and lower gate fees at recyclers.

“Think of the boost to community organisations who could make money from this.

“In South Australia the Scouts run recycling centres and make $9 million annually from this venture.

“I recall, as a kid, collecting the deposits on bottles and cans. Many of the more marginalised people in South Australia are able to supplement their meagre incomes from collecting recyclables.

“NSW wants a container deposit scheme. Why are the Government and Opposition keeping us waiting?”