More container depots in Queensland is not the sole solution

The facts are clear: container deposit schemes work.  They reduce litter, increase recycling rates and encourage positive recycling habits for communities in which they are implemented.

Early proof can be seen in the new Queensland program: Containers for Change. Since commencing the Containers for Change program in November 2018, more than 259,550,876 containers have been returned[1], reducing beverage container litter by nearly 17%.[2] Beverage containers were the second most littered item in Queensland in 2018[3] and the new initiative aims to both dramatically reduce litter and increase overall recycling rates.

The new scheme is highly in-demand. However, as the only state with the majority of the population outside of the capital city[4] Queensland, now needs to address its logistic issue with the current container deposit scheme model.

The one large negative impact of container deposit schemes in Australia is making sure everyone in the community, metro and regionally based, can access a container deposit depot refund point. 

A recent article in the Queensland Courier Mail highlighted that many Queenslanders had to drive up to eight hours to access a local container deposit refund point.  However, residents are still having to incur the additional 10 cent cost per container – despite not being able to practically return it.

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Source: Courier Mail, Sunday February 24, 2019

When the state launched Containers for Change, there were 230 container refund collection points.[5] Today, this number has increased to 272, which is an 18% increase in just four months.[6]  The QLD Government has forecast this number will reach 300 within 12months.[7] The growth of new collection points shows there is high demand from the public. However, (as highlighted in the article above) some existing facilities are 'all over the shop' and experiencing 'problems at individual locations.

The QLD Containers for Change scheme has an opportunity to make a real impact. Yet this will only happen if the government and program management look beyond this issue of 'not enough depots' and start focusing on improving logistics, depot capability and public buy-in. 

Investment in Regional Logistics

It should be no surprise that QLD’s container deposit refund depots reflect where the population live.

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With the majority of the container depots focused around Brisbane, it is clear to see why it is hard for regional QLD residents and businesses to leverage the new system.

The new container deposit system needs to support its rural communities by funding logistic partners who can collect and deliver containers from rural communities to regional centres. The good news is, the Container for Change program is currently reviewing this.  The program website: highlights the opportunity for logistics providers to “provide the safe and efficient transportation of the eligible containers from the container refund points to a centre for further processing.”[8] Businesses who are interested in becoming a logistics partner are encouraged to contact:

If logistics is the door to solving the rural container refund matter, technology is the key.

Improving container depots processing capacity

Increasing the number of containers that depots can process on a daily basis, has the potential to greatly impact the recycling industry. As we witnessed with the China ban on importing recycling, many recycling facilities were unable to meet the new surge in processing requirements; causing havoc in many councils.

With the increase in popularity of the QLD container deposit refund program, many depots are already experiencing double the number of containers compared to just two months ago.[9]  To meet demand, facilities need to ensure they can rapidly process large numbers of containers to both keep customers happy (and not waiting in queues) as well as ensure business profitability.  This means investing in technology which can increase production speed and accuracy.

Innovation has been playing an important role in the recycling and waste management industry over the past decade. As the world continues to increase its plastic production and consumption of disposable goods, recycling innovation and the circular economy has become more important than ever.

Container Deposit Systems is one of the innovative Australian companies leading the in recycling technology. The company’s Vision and Sorting Machine can automatically count up to 350 containers every minute and the new award-winning Auto Redemption Terminal offers customers a rapid refund solution whilst minimising costs for depots.

Already, container refund depots which have implemented the Container Deposit Systems’ Auto Redemption Terminal in QLD are receiving increased business and higher customer satisfaction.  In a 9 News interview regarding the new Southport Terminal, one customer stated she preferred the automated terminal as it "was a lot easier" [than other container deposit depots].

Container Deposit Systems has worked with numerous depots in QLD to achieve dramatic improvements in processing capabilities.  When asked about Container Deposit Systems' Auto Redemption Terminal, Ken Thornber of Pittsworth Metals said 'I've been very happy with the machines. The back-up service has been second to none'.

Improving container system capabilities

In addition to improving the total number of containers a depot can process, it will also be important for facilities to be able to process containers of varying ‘quality.’ Currently, many facilities are unable to process containers which are damaged, broken or have the labels removed.[10] This creates annoyance for container deposit facilities (as they lose revenue from the damaged container) [11] and for customers who feel they are being ‘ripped off.’ There have been numerous reports across QLD with one customer complaining after she dropped off nine large bags only to receive $2.10 in return. [12]

Technology invented by companies like Container Deposit Systems is solving these problems at a rapid rate. The Vision and Sorting Machine no long needs containers to be in ‘perfect condition’ and can accept a wide range of damaged containers which previously would have been disregarded. 

Whilst the benefits of new technology are excellent for the physical refund, the overarching cultural impact is far more important. With efficient systems in place, more people will be willing to recycle their containers, thus achieving the program objectives at a greater rate. 

The technology exists to make this work

Container Deposit Schemes work; however, they will only achieve optimum results when consumers have confidence in the system.

The exciting part is: the technology to achieve a world-class operating industry exists right here in Australia.  And it is consistently improving.  The technology can reduce bottlenecks, increase business operating profits and ultimately encourage more people to bring their containers to a local depot.

Therefore, when looking at the “refund lockout” issue in QLD, the answer is not simply to just invest in ‘more container deposit depots.’ We need governments to invest in logistics and education campaigns to make the system is accessible to all. And, we need businesses to continue investing in technology to lift overall industry productivity and profitability.

 About Container Deposit Systems

Container Deposit Systems was formed with a vision to oversee the implementation of improved operational practices in recycling facilities.  The company offers a range of services to recycling depot facilities to drive productivity improvements and transition traditional recycling facilities into modern technically advanced operators.

The company achieve this through patented technologies which deliver manufacturing automation to auto-sort materials via a highly sensitive multi-sensor integration.  Systems integrations enable facilities to further gain efficiencies through workflows, materials handling, logistic processes, facility layout and design, customer interaction and data acquisition and management. 

Container Deposit Systems technologies are designed and manufactured in Australia with local partners Sage Automation and Macweld Engineering.

For more information, please contact us directly.