When it comes to our packaging, Lion’s objective is to increase recycling and reduce litter. We simply differ in our view on the best way to achieve this.
Lion has voluntarily invested millions of dollars for more than 20 years to drive improvements in our manufacturing processes, reduce litter and increase the recycling of our bottles, cans and liquid paperboard containers. At present, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is reviewing a range of national solutions to address recycling and litter in Australia. Lion has been working with industry to put forward a fully funded $100 million program, The National Bin Network, which will boost beverage container recycling rates from 56% to at least 70% over five years and decrease the volume of litter by 10%.
We believe the COAG process is important, because it will ensure the appropriate rigour is applied and the costs and benefits of all solutions are appropriately assessed for the benefit of the Australian community. Despite the COAG review process still progressing, the Northern Territory Government decided to move ahead and introduce its own container deposit scheme (CDS) in 2012.
Container deposit schemes focus on beverage containers only – and beverage containers make up approximately 4% of the total waste stream and around 10% of litter. That means they do nothing to address 96% of total waste and the remaining 90% of litter. Despite South Australia having had a CDS since 1977, the latest litter data shows South Australia still has a higher litter rate than Victoria, despite Victoria not having a CDS*. We believe we can do much better.
At the conclusion of 2012, Lion, Coca Cola Amatil and Schweppes asked the Federal Court to rule on whether the NT’s CDS contravened the Mutual Recognition Act. We joined this action because we believe a national and holistic approach is required to effectively address all packaging recycling and litter. Our concerns were validated by the Court, which has ruled that the NT CDS conflicts with the Act.
We understand, however, that the Territory Government may appeal the decision and will seek permanent exemptions from its obligations under the Act in order to keep the CDS. With so many unknown factors at this stage, Lion plans to continue to implement the scheme until there is further clarity and will work to discuss and resolve appropriate next steps in the coming weeks.
Together with other industry members we will also continue to implement trials of our alternative in the Territory, where we are already working with Keep Australia Beautiful to implement programs that are tailored to remote communities, as well as more broadly across the country.
*SA has a rate of 57 items per 1,000 m2, whereas Victoria has the lowest national litter rate at 36 items per 1,000 m2. The national rate is 58 items per 1,000 m2.