Operators appointed for Vic container deposit scheme

Victoria has announced the start date for its drink container recycling program, with responsibility for running the scheme to be split between the beverages industry and independent network operators.

James Dorney: Looking for partnerships

The beverages industry-funded program kicks off on November 1, environment minister Ingrid Stitt confirmed on Friday.

It will have more than 600 independently operated collection points across the state and provide a 10 cent refund for every eligible container deposited.

The government has appointed VicReturn as Scheme Coordinator and Visy, TOMRA Cleanaway, and Return-It as Network Operators.

VicReturn was formed as a not-for-profit entity by brewer Lion, soft drink giant Coca-Cola Europacific and VB manufacturer Asahi Beverages.

It will manage the financial and administrative aspects of the scheme, including fraud prevention and performance reporting, and pay refunds and network collection costs, with the government providing a loan to cover start-up costs.

The three network operators will be responsible for establishing collection points and distributing refunds to consumers.

Operators will be required to have a minimum of one collection point per 14,500 people in metropolitan areas, at least one per town of 750 people in regional areas and at least one per town of 350 in remote areas.

The state government will oversee the scheme’s overall management.

“Victoria’s Container Deposit Scheme will maximise the number of cans, bottles and cartons being recycled into new products, put extra cash in Victorian pockets and will reduce the amount of litter in our environment by half,” Ms Stitt said in a statement.

Refunds can be donated to community groups

TOMRA will operate the network in western Victoria. It says the area represents a population of over 2 million people and an estimated half a billion drink containers a year.

The company says it’s looking at an estimated $50 million a year in refunds.

Reverse vending machine technology will scan each container deposited at return points and provide refund options including retail cash, donations to charity and community groups and digital transfers back to bank accounts.

Plastics will be taken to local recycling plants, glass will be processed for reuse and aluminium sold into an open commodity market.

TOMRA CEO James Dorney says the company is looking for partnerships from businesses, community groups and charities interested in operating a collection point.

“Collection point operators that provide the community with access to the Victorian Container Deposit Scheme will be critical to the scheme’s success,” he said.

“We are keen to hear from community groups, commercial operators and not-for-profits that want to partner with us.”

Split governance model applauded

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) has congratulated the government for taking on a split responsibility model, which dilutes control of the scheme by the beverages industry.

 “By electing for a split responsibility model, the government will be able to manage the inherent conflict of interest associated with higher return rates leading to increased costs for beverage suppliers,” CEO Gayle Sloan said.

An online survey of almost 2,000 people conducted during the consultation period last year showed 98 per cent of respondents were likely to return their used drink contains for a refund.

The state government has committed to diverting 80 per cent of waste away from landfill by 2030.

The start of Victoria’s scheme means that all Australian states and territories now have various models of container deposits.

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