Bendigo groups support bottle refund scheme in city

BENDIGO environmental groups say a container deposit scheme would help the city’s waste management concerns and ease growing demand on the Eaglehawk landfill.

Members of the Bendigo Sustainability Group are backing the introduction of a national bottle refund program, similar to the rebate system offered in South Australia.

City of Greater Bendigo Eaglehawk ward councillor Peter Cox has also joined calls for the Victorian government to introduce rebates for recycling bottles.

The issue is set to be considered by state environment ministers at a meeting on August 24. A Victorian government spokeswoman said they had yet to commit to supporting any scheme.

“A range of models are currently being examined in detail through the Commonwealth process,” she said. “Ministers will discuss options when they meet in Canberra later this month.” 

The peak body for Australian beverages manufacturers and retailers has lobbied the government to reject the system.

Australian Beverages Council chief executive Geoff Parker said the rise in handling fees and extra costs in rebates would have a “catastrophic impact” on small business. 

“In regional towns like Bendigo, that’s some stores’ profit margins gone. It will be the death-knell of smaller retailers,” he said. 

Cr Cox said it would be “very disappointing” if the government didn’t consider the program. 

“We’ve got to put pressure on the state government to seriously consider it,” he said.

Cr Cox said the deposit scheme would reduce the amount of bottles that end up at Eaglehawk landfill by about 20 per cent. 

The container deposit scheme has been on the City of Greater Bendigo’s agenda for four years after a motion to support it was passed on May 6, 2009. Bendigo Sustainability Group president David Brownbill said the deposit scheme would be well-received by the local community.

“I think the Bendigo public would embrace it really well,” he said. “People in this region are very conscious of waste.”

Members from the zero waste action group, formed through the BSG, said they were keen to see any incentive to encourage recycling.

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