Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (10:16):
I rise to speak on the Environment Protection (Beverage Container Deposit and Recovery Scheme) Bill 2010. Australians use 12 billion beverage containers every year. This bill, introduced by my Greens colleague Senator Scott Ludlam, introduces a scheme for the environmentally sustainable management and reuse of those containers to apply throughout Australia. This is a major and long overdue reform. Only half of those 12 billion beverage containers are currently recycled. Too many of them end up as litter or in landfill.
The Australian Greens have long been a strong advocate for this approach. Recycling is important because it alleviates the need to use our precious natural resources when producing materials from scratch. It reduces the amount of energy and water used in product development, it decreases air emissions created by the processing of new containers and it lowers the cost of waste collection and sorting.
As I have said in this place before, 200 years of increasingly intensive industrialisation, fuelled by the burning of fossil fuels and coupled with an exponential increase in the earth's population, has led to the situation that is before us. It is one that we must grasp in this decade of the 21st century. Our environment is at risk. We are facing serious consequences from increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide and methane. For the sake of our future and our kids and our grandkids we must use every means to reduce our impact on our planet. This container deposit legislation scheme is a critical step.
I am proud to say that my state of South Australia has had a container deposit legislation scheme in place since the 1970s. South Australia provides a case in point as to the benefits and successes of these schemes. Our container deposit scheme works in conjunction with kerbside schemes. In South Australia the beverage companies own their unredeemed deposits. South Australia has achieved a recovery rate of over 80 per cent of containers, with 1.5 tonnes per person recycled each year. The South Australian statutory authority Zero Waste SA was established in 2003 and since then the total amount of waste disposed to landfill has decreased by over 15 per cent to 2008, despite population growth.
According to the National Waste Report 2010, waste generation in South Australia for 2006-07 was 2,090 kilograms per person, which is 0.5 per cent above the national average generation of 2,080 kilograms per person. In 2010-11, approximately 47,000 tonnes or 593 million beverage containers were returned for refund, a rate of 80.4 per cent. South Australian councils have benefited from the scheme, with some reporting incomes of up to $90,000 per year. As well, kerbside recycling is more economically viable, as reduced volumes require fewer collection services and sorting operations and reduce landfill and associated levy costs.
Community organisations have also benefited. Those that operate collection depots use the income to fund their numerous activities, such as the Scouts, who earn approximately $9 million a year from recycling containers. As the founder of Keep Australia Beautiful, Ian Kiernan, has said:
What happens (in South Australia) is that instead of seeing a bit of rubbish beside the road or the beach, you see a bit of money-and (the rubbish) is gone.
In addition to South Australia's container deposit legislation, Zero Waste SA promotes recycling and minimisation of waste at home, work and in industry. We have legislation to reduce the use of checkout style plastic bags used in supermarkets.
South Australia's recycling and waste management achievements have been recognised by UN-HABITAT in its 2010 international report Solid Waste Management in the World's Cities. This report considered 22 cities across the world and highlighted that:
Adelaide's and South Australia's waste resources management system is in some respects global best practice. South Australia has demonstrated a high level of political commitment and willingness to 'stick its neck out' and implement some policies and legislation upon which other administrations take a more conservative position.
The South Australian community overwhelmingly supports our container deposit scheme, with 92 per cent in favour.
I am proud to share these positive achievements of my state and, as a federal parliamentarian, I want to see good ideas from South Australia going national. It is time for the national container deposit scheme outlined in this Australian Greens bill, and I commend it to the Senate.