Trashy campaigning in cash for containers war

cash for containers

If you’re looking for a good laugh today, the beverage industry has started an anti cash for containers campaign. Authorised by the Australian Beverage Council, the ads appear on TV, in print and on the radio, claiming that the “up to 20c” deposit on bottles is nothing more than a tax.

The “Say No To The Drink-Container Tax” campaign is backed up by a fascinating website. I particularly recommend the FAQs page, which asks questions such as:

  • [Cash for containers] has been shown to work for 30 years in SA, why won’t it work in the rest of the country?
  • It sounds like a no-brainer to me, you pay 10 cents and you get 10 cents back, what’s the problem?
  • Isn’t industry just trying to get out of its responsibility to make sure its packaging gets recycled and doesn’t end up as litter? (This one’s my favourite.)

If you think the questions are funny, the answers are hilarious! Here’s part of the answer to the last question:

“Actually, industry and likeminded organisations that have come out against container deposits are the only people standing up for consumer interests in this debate right now.”

Hmm. Let’s discuss this. The like-minded organisations of which they speak include Keep Australia Beautiful, which receives at least one third of its funding from Coke. Interesting. And industry is renowned for standing up for consumer interests, just look at… um… anyone?

If you go to the website, don’t bother looking for an about page, especially if you wear glasses. The only indication of who is behind this campaign is the teeny, tiny small print and the bottom left of the screen.

The container tax will cost money and jobs

There has been some creative accounting for the campaign. Apparently, the average family will pay $300 per year on the “container tax”. At 20c per bottle, that means each family is consuming 28 bottles per week. That’s a lot. They might want to think about getting a refillable bottle and cutting back on the soft drinks. Oh no, hang on – the Australian Beverage Council doesn’t want that!

And 1600 jobs will be lost if Australia introduces a national cash for containers recycling scheme. Whose jobs, we don’t know. And whether they’ll find other jobs created by the cash for containers scheme is unclear. But they’ve put it on the infographic, so it must be true.

Australia needs a cash for containers recycling scheme

Enough sarcasm for today. Greenpeace, Clean Up Australia, Take 3, Australian Seabird Rescue, Responsible Runners and a bunch of other environmental charities say we need a national container deposit scheme. Here are some great reasons why:

  • 15,000 bottles and cans are throw away every minute, with only one-third making it into the recycling bin.
  • A cash for containers scheme has been proven to increase recycling rates.
  • Incentivising rubbish collection can drive long-term behavioural change (think about the ‘waste not want not’ mentality of just 40 years ago).
  • The scheme has the potential to create thousands of jobs in waste management.
  • Marine debris, much of which comes from the beverage industry (lids, seals, spouts and the bottles themselves) is estimated to affect up to 85% of Australian seabirds.

The beverage industry’s solution involves placing more bins in public places and funding an education campaign. They’ve been promising to do something about their waste for three decades, but only now are they willing to act.

coke selfieHere’s how you can help

Government will determine whether we get a cash for containers recycling scheme in just a few weeks. The beverage industry has lots of money and can buy lots of air-time to get their dodgy message across. Hit them where it counts by emailing your premier to show your support for a container deposit scheme here.

Also keep an eye out for the counter ad-campaign by Greenpeace and all the others mentioned above, featuring Australians’ “trashy selfies”. Here’s mine! And yes, I had to practically lie in the gutter to take it!

 What are your thoughts on a national cash for containers scheme?


  1. Cath says

    We were in Adelaide recently and noticed men going through the bins in parks and on the streets. At first I thought they were looking for food and was just about to offer them some of what we’d brought in case the kids got hungry, when I realised they were collecting cans and bottles to get the deposit :) Love container “taxes”. And my daughter is always picking up rubbish, so I’m sure she’d appreciate a little bit of reward for her efforts.

    • (dt)em says

      My kids would be right up for it! I spoke to an environmental campaigner who told me he met a guy who made $30K a year collecting bottles in SA!

  2. Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie says

    It’s so frustrating they can get away with advertising like that, so misleading.
    I remember loving it when I lived in the Netherlands that you could take your empty beer bottles back in the crate them came in to the supermarket and you got a few euros back straight away. It was just what everyone did without questioning it – and why wouldn’t you?
    If it makes people think twice before they throw things in the rubbish bin then I’m all for it!
    Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie recently posted..How To: Storing Fruit & VegetablesMy Profile

    • (dt)em says

      Same – we we blown away in Munich at how ingrained reuse was. You even took your yoghurt pots (glass) back to the supermarket. And at Oktoberfest, we paid 4 euros for a (plastic) bottle of water and got 1 euro back when we returned it.

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