Reducing litter through cash for containers

A ‘cash for containers’ scheme could reduce Western Australia’s litter problem by potentially eliminating nearly half of the items that are currently littered across the State.

The 2012 Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index identifies WA as having the highest volume of litter in the nation, prompting calls for changes in behaviour and increases to fines for littering.

The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) has called upon the State Government to introduce a ‘cash for containers’ scheme to encourage individuals to recycle containers, stating this could have a marked impact upon levels of littering and reduce the costs of litter clean up, estimated at $20 million per year.

WALGA President Mayor Troy Pickard compared WA’s performance in the Index to that of South Australia.

“If you compare the Index’s ‘Dirty Dozen’, or top 12 littered items for WA and SA, you’ll see that materials covered by South Australia’s container deposit legislation are not featured in their top twelve,” Mayor Pickard said. “Whereas in WA, five of the top 12 littered items are beverage containers.”

Mayor Pickard said although a national process was currently being considered, it was not supported by all states and is therefore unlikely to succeed. 

“We are calling on the WA Environment Minster to introduce a ‘cash for containers’ scheme for Western Australia, using his existing powers under the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act (2007),” he said.

“While increased fines to reduce litter are an important part of the solution, it is also vital to provide incentives for people to do the right thing.

“A ‘cash for containers’ scheme, like they have in South Australia, provides a strong incentive to recycle containers. And, if they are thrown away, the 10 cent deposit rewards others who gather and recycle them.”