Environmentalist and plastic pollution spokesperson Tim Silverwood has come out scathing at media reports that the proposed 10 cent container deposit scheme (CDS) is a new ‘plastic tax’ designed to ‘hit the family budget’.
“The claims of a 20 cent price rise from a national container deposits scheme are just wrong and should be ignored. All the economic research from real world systems show it is simply impossible that an efficient CDS (unlike the NT one managed by the industry) would have an extra 10 cents on top of the deposit – in fact the Boomerang Alliance scheme developed from best practice systems would have no extra fee.”
“These media stories are clearly being pedalled by the beverage industry and are only focusing on one misleading part of the debate, that CDS is a new tax. It’s not a tax, it’s a refundable deposit.” Tim said. “And where is the mention of the huge range of benefits for a CDS and that in all surveys conducted over 80% of Australians support it?”
Tim Silverwood who has been researching and documenting the plastic pollution problem for many years supports the scheme. He has seen first hand the frightening reality of where a lot of the world’s plastic ends up, in the middle of the ocean. In July 2011, Tim spent 3-weeks sailing through a region of the North Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch where ocean currents carry all manner of discarded plastic into a giant vortex stretching across a region larger than the continent of Australia.
“There is over18 000 pieces of plastic in every square kilometre of ocean. Research suggests that up to one third of all marine debris in the oceans comes from the beverage industry; we’re talking about millions of tonnes of new beverage related plastic into the sea every year.
South Australia has had a successful CDS operating since 1975 that results in 80% of all beverage containers being returned for recycling and negligible levels of beverage container litter. Other Australian States have recycling rates of around 40% for beverage containers. Researchers estimate that around 8 billion recyclable beverage containers are sent to landfill or littered every year in Australia, with only 5 billion being recycled.
Environmental groups and local government associations have been calling on the government to adopt the successful South Australian model for many years and recent indications from political leaders show they support it. At a public rally in April, Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke spoke in favour of the scheme but emphasised that the decision rests with each State to endorse a Nationwide scheme.
“Marine debris is killing over a million innocent marine creatures per year and will become an ecological disaster in years to come if we don’t act. We are using more plastic now than ever before and we’re not managing it properly. Around the world CDS is seen as THE solution to preventing litter and boosting recycling, it gives people that extra ‘nudge’ to make sure they do the right thing.” Tim said.
In 2009 Tim co-founded the not-for-profit organisation Take 3, that asks every visitor to simply take three pieces of rubbish with them when they leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere. Developed by a small group of passionate surfers and beach lovers sick of seeing plastic waste on the beaches and in the ocean, it now has followers all around the world.
“What the beverage manufacturers are failing to be honest about here is that they are actually MAKING money off the unreturned containers. They are crying poor and suggesting they have to raise prices on beverages and make consumers pay more whilst they are pocketing millions of dollars in unredeemed containers. This is simply a callous PR campaign designed to stop producers ever having responsibility over the waste of their products. Big business has an inherent distaste for any legislation geared towards extended producer responsibility (EPR) and if we listen to their nonsense we will have to keep on picking up their waste and watching the oceans fill up with rubbish whilst they run off to the banks with pockets full of cash.” Tim concluded.
For a detailed account of why Australia needs a container deposit scheme visit: http://timsilverwood.com/2012/07/04/why-australia-needs-a-national-container-deposit-scheme/