THE start of the much-hyped container deposit scheme on 1 November has highlighted flaws in the program and drawn criticism from environment groups and the state opposition.
The state government financed scheme provides a 10-cent refund for returned eligible cans, cartons and bottles, and has been promoted as an important component of the recycling system and a way to cut litter.
But by the second day of the trial, some container bins on the Mornington Peninsula were too full to receive any more due to members of the public loading them up with cans they had been saving.
There have also been reports across Victoria of machines in car parks not working, and locations for drop off sites disappearing off the state website.
According to Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, which does not run the scheme, there are 12 collection sites, including reverse vending machines, drop off depots and over-the-counter points across the shire.
On the peninsula, the scheme is being delivered by network operator Return-It, with unbroken cans, bottles and cartons being accepted. Glass wine bottles, milk cartons, and bottles containing cordial or concentrated fruit juice are not accepted.
There is growing concern that Victorians will turn away from the scheme unless problems are resolved quickly.
When the scheme was announced by the state government, environmental advocate the Boomerang Alliance said it needed to be “best scheme maximising recycling; with great convenience for consumers who want to redeem their 10 cents and a credible governance system”.
But it says the scheme is disappointing, with not enough refund points and differences in the quality and convenience of the small number of points.
The alliance says that container deposit schemes are in place in more than 40 countries or states around the world, with the best ones demonstrating a more than 95 per cent return rate.
Opposition spokesman for the environment James Newbury said the roll out of the collection points was a massive let down for Victorians who had waited years for Labor to introduce a working container deposit scheme “only to find out the state government has stuffed it up”.
“Acknowledging the chaos, environmental advocates, including the Boomerang Alliance, have called for a delay in the scheme’s commencement as government is not ready to manage the estimated three billion eligible beverages consumed in Victoria each year,” he said.
The state government says it requires operators to establish more deposit points over the next 12 months.