Container deposit scheme misses every milestone and Government refuses to tell us why

In Parliament | 01.03.18

The Berejiklian Government has failed every key target in the first three months of the container deposit scheme and is blocking attempts by the NSW Labor Opposition to get to the bottom of the bungled rollout.

The scheme has failed to meet its end of February deadline for the number of collection points, number of reverse vending machines and containers collected.

An Opposition analysis of key promises and forecasts of the scheme reveal a string of failures for the first three months, including:

Promise: There will be 800 reverse vending machines.

×        FAIL: There are less than 500 machines, not even two-thirds of those promised.

Promise: There will be 500 collection points operating.

×       FAIL: There are just 460 collection points with numerous points operating poorly or not at all.

Promise: More than half of collection points will be automated with reverse vending machines.

×       FAIL: Just 28 per cent are automated with machines (131 out of 460).

Forecast: Consumers will return nearly 428 million containers.

×       FAIL: Just 27 per cent containers have been returned (117 mil out of 428 mil).

But taxpayers will be kept in the dark as to why and how it has failed because Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton has refused freedom of information requests, forcing Labor to take the State Government to court.

Minister Upton refused to deal with one request for information, while the NSW Environment Protection Authority has attempted to charge taxpayers $121,590.00 for three other requests. Labor is now taking the Minister to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal over the refusal.

In addition to the broken promises, the Government is currently breaching its own rules for ‘community access principles’ by not locating enough collection points per head of population around the state. Large centres like Taree and Wyong are without any collection points, and in Sydney more than 2 million people don’t have easy access to a machine.

The scheme has cost consumers $128 million in the first three months in increased drinks costs but has refunded just $11.7 million – leaving everyone out of pocket by more than $116 million.

Finally, the Government’s contractor for the rollout of collection points, TOMRA, last week released a chart indicating a long wait until we reach the promised number of collection points – see page 10 of the report. 

Quotes attributable to Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe 

“NSW should be celebrating this scheme as a win for recycling and the environment, but instead people all around NSW are scratching their heads and asking ‘Who on earth is in charge of this mess?’ 

“Not enough collection points are costing families and the mismanagement of the collection points is leaving a giant pile of rubbish wherever a reverse vending machine has been installed. 

“Labor has tried to get information released on the scheme, but the government has either refused or wants to charge excessive and unnecessary fees. 

“Any minister who costs the community $116 million, breaks every key promise for a major environmental initiative, and breaches their own rules for providing community access to the scheme, can leave only one option for the Premier. It is time for Minister Upton to go.”