The McGowan Government has deferred the launch of Western Australia’s container deposit scheme Containers for Change.
Originally planned for launch on June 2, 2020, the decision to delay the scheme is due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 and its expected disruption to refund points.
The scheme’s postponement is in accordance with advice from the scheme co-ordinator, WA Return Recycle Renew Ltd (WARRRL).
The State Government has also responded to calls from community, local government and businesses for the scheme launch to be postponed.
The McGowan Government will review the situation in August 2020 to determine whether the scheme’s new start date will be November 2020 or June 2021.
Delaying the scheme until after the major impacts of COVID-19 are felt will eliminate the public health concerns such as potential risk of infection from handling containers, as well as over-the-counter refund points contravening social distancing.
A delayed launch would also avoid starting the scheme during a period which may be the potential peak of the pandemic.
The scheme focuses on employing people with disability, older people and Aboriginal people. These community groups are generally more vulnerable and their involvement in the scheme may place them at greater risk of infection.
Closures of pubs, clubs and many other venues, as well as schools, would have also impacted on the volume of containers.
WA Return Recycle Renew Limited, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) and the State Government will continue to work closely on developing a revised timeline for the launch of the scheme.
As stated by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:
“COVID-19 has resulted in significant global, national and State impacts and there has been disruption across the board for Government initiatives and services.
“The McGowan Government, in close consultation with WARRRL and DWER, determined that under the COVID-19 environment we are all faced with, there are too many potential health risks and logistical difficulties to start the scheme on June 2, 2020.
“The Government has also responded to calls from community, local government and businesses for the scheme launch to be postponed.
“Starting the scheme on June 2 would put the scheme’s success at risk and place refund point operators under significant pressure.
“While it is disappointing to be deferring the scheme, we remain committed to delivering the most diverse and accessible scheme in Australia.
“We will continue to work together and update the community, operators and suppliers throughout this period of uncertainty.”