The tale of two (cash for cans) models
19 April 2021 at 5:06 pm
Recycling advocates say charities in Victoria shouldn’t have to sub-contract through a private company when the state launches its first container deposit scheme
Victorian charities are being urged to make their voices heard, or miss out on millions in revenue from the state’s upcoming container deposit scheme.
The Victorian government has spent over a year deliberating between two different cash for cans models, with the scheme set to launch in 2023 for the first time.
On Wednesday, Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio announced the state will replicate the model used in states such as New South Wales. This approach means there will be more collection points and extra accountability, but charity groups will receive less money than they would under an alternative model.
This is because the model uses a “network operator” (a private company or companies), which charges a commission to operate collection points and dispose of containers.
In NSW, this position is filled by the recycling giant TOMRA Cleanaway, which creates hundreds of jobs and makes millions in profit. D’Ambrosio has said there might be one or many network operators when the scheme launches in Victoria.
But charities such as Scouts and the Good Friday Appeal have campaigned for the state to adopt the model used in South Australia, Queensland, and Western Australia. Under this alternative, charities that choose to sort their own cans and contract directly with the scheme coordinator receive 6.5 cents per can, compared with the 3.5 to 4.5 cents per container they would receive after the network operator has taken a cut.
In both schemes, charities can also receive 10 cents for each can returned by consumers who choose to make a donation.
Scouts Victoria executive general manager Jon McGregor told The Age that a couple of cents made a big difference.
“It adds up pretty quickly when you consider there are three billion containers every year,” McGregor said.
And it’s made a big difference for the organisation across state lines, with Scouts SA claiming to have made $30 million over the last 10 years through the cash for cans program.
Charities must use their voice
Paul Klymenko, the chair of VicRecycle, said that charities needed to use their voice to let the government know how imperative it was to not have to subcontract through a network operator.
“If Victorian charities, community groups and sporting clubs are forced to subcontract to take part as operators in the CDS [container deposit scheme], they will lose up to $50 million in revenue,” Klymenko told Pro Bono News.
“They need to make their voice loud and clear that they want the option to get full benefit of taking part, including collecting the full handling fee as network operators.”
Klymenko said it was positive that the government was open to having multiple network operators, instead of just one.
“A monopoly operator won’t benefit Victorians – but an open market where everyone can take part will,” he said.
Pro Bono News reached out to D’Ambrosio’s office for comment, but did not receive a response before deadline.