Queensland Government Media Releases

Container refund scheme and plastic bag ban a step closer

June 14, 2017

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
The Honourable Steven Miles

Container refund scheme and plastic bag ban a step closer

Queenslanders can look forward to cleaner neighbourhoods and a healthier environment thanks to two litter busting initiatives introduced by the Palaszczuk Government in Parliament today.

Environment Minister Steven Miles said a container refund scheme and a ban on single use plastic bags would get rubbish out of our environment and waterways and help people to recycle.

“Queenslanders are sick of being the litter capital of the country.

“Right now supermarkets are handing out a billion plastic bags a year in our state and many of those end up polluting our waterways and oceans and killing our fish and turtles.

“More than 23,000 Queenslanders told us they wanted a ban on single use plastic shopping bags.

“We’ve heard them loud and clear. A plastic bag ban will make it easier for people to recycle and protect our environment from plastic pollution,” Mr Miles said.

Mr Miles said theamendments to the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 introduced today also included a Container Refund Scheme.

“We’re also introducing a container refund program which will make it easier for people to recycle and give community groups a chance to make some extra money from their clean up days.

“To make the program as simple as possible, refunds will be available from reverse vending machines or at designated container refund points," Mr Miles said.

“We even have bipartisan support in Parliament, reflecting the overwhelming community support for both the refund scheme and the plastic bag ban.”

Toby Hutcheon of the Boomerang Alliance and Wildlife Queensland said the container refund scheme and the ban on plastic shopping bags would have enormous positive impacts on the environment.

“These two measures can reduce litter volumes particularly plastic litter by at least 50% in Queensland.

“This package represents the most significant policy on litter reduction in a generation.

“And it doesn’t help that we also have one of the country’s lowest recycling rates at around 44 per cent.

“Drink cans and bottles dominate litter in our parks, beaches and public areas, while we use almost a billion lightweight single-use plastic shopping bags in Queensland each year, none of which are recycled.

“Today’s announcement will help give local communities the ability to stem the massive waste of plastic polluting our playgrounds, parks, rivers and beaches.”

Director of Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation, Trevor Long, said the legislative changes were positive steps to protect marine wildlife.

“We rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of sea birds, marine turtles, and dolphins, seals and other animals after they have ingested litter,” Mr Long said.

“If you’ve ever seen a turtle fight for life after swallowing a plastic bag, or struggling to swim after becoming entangled in a thoughtlessly discarded fishing line, you’ll know the damage that marine debris can do to our marine wildlife.

“I welcome these changes and hope it raises more awareness in the community about the health and conservation of our incredible marine wildlife, and the effects our litter has on them.”

Mr Daryl Scott, Chief Commissioner of Scouts Queensland, said the introduction of the Container Refund Scheme offered a fantastic triple bottom line for not-for-profits, the environment and the community.

“Scouts all over the world value and care for the environment,” Mr Scott said.

“By engaging with the container deposit scheme, just as we’ve done in South Australia, this will help Scout groups to fundraise – and provide a significant environmental benefit at the same time.”

Under the container refund scheme most drink containers between 150ml and 3 litres will be eligible for a 10 cent refund, although some containers are exempt, such as containers for plain milk, wine and pure juice.

South Australia and the Northern Territory have been operating similar schemes for many years, with New South Wales to bring in a refund scheme at the end of this year. 

Similarly, bans on lightweight single-use plastic shopping bags are already in place in other parts of the country including South Australia, the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.

In Queensland, the container refund scheme and shopping bag ban will start on 1 July 2018.

The Palaszczuk Government is working closely with beverage manufacturers, retailers, local government, the waste and resource recovery industry, and the community on both proposals to ensure a smooth transition and operation of the initiatives.

More information on the container refund scheme and the lightweight single-use plastic shopping bag ban in Queensland is available at www.ehp.qld.gov.au/waste.