My experience of how Cash for Containers works

3 April 2013

Below is just one of the fantastic emails we've received since launching our campaign to stop Coca Cola bullying our Governments and urge them to bring in a national Cash for Containers scheme.

Quite a few years ago I was one of the organisers of community events in Adelaide for the Adelaide Festival.

One year, in the early 1980’s, the opening ceremony of the Adelaide Festival was held on a very hot March evening. It was estimated that 120,000 people would attend. We ordered from Schweppes more than 120,000 cans of drinks. Each can was sold with a 5 cent deposit. This represented $6,000 return funds. The organisers were able to sell the right to collect the cans to the Scouting Movement. Because of the value of the empty cans, each rubbish bin was guarded throughout the entertainment by the Scouts. They had to stop others from collecting the valued empties. The money involved was thus used in the community to support professional entertainment during the festival and, through the Scouts, in the well being of South Australian children.

Scientists estimate that a third of plastic pollution comes from the drinks industry.

Later I designed and organised an Old Fashioned Picnic for the festival. With attendance of 65,000 people, I employed a local Lion’s Club to run an “emu parade” to clean up the park, for which I paid them $400. We collected a total of four, forty four gallon rubbish bins of rubbish which included no cans or bottles. The Lions told me that the lack of rubbish was due to the deposit scheme and the extensive educational program (Keep South Australia Beautiful) that went with it. They had noted the difference at such community events when the laws were brought in. People took their rubbish home with them. Children simply did not throw rubbish onto the ground.

In contrast, I was the organiser and designer of the Bicentennial Australia Day celebrations in Canberra. We had a concert at the conclusion of the day’s event in Commonwealth Park, on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin. The event went well but the following morning we had a sea of cans, broken bottles and rubbish, a total of more than four and a half tons. It cost many thousands of dollars to clean the park, money paid to a commercial company not retained by the community. The clean up was an expense to the community, when it would have been a valuable community asset had the ACT had similar laws to South Australia.

Companies, which oppose the laws which the Northern Territory and South Australia have successfully instigated, and which should be national, oppose the communities they use as mines for commercial gains. They need to bear the shame of all the litter that lies on the streets of our cities, the roads of our nation and the international waterways.

Dr Ian Bremner-Macdonald, JP, BMus, Grad DipEd, MA, PhD

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